Can NAS handle a dense VM Environment?

Network Attached Storage (NAS) systems have traditionally been used for the storing of unstructured data. As these systems have increased in performance and capabilities they are being used more and more for non-traditional NAS workloads, like databases and virtualization. While NAS has carved out a niche in the virtualization market it has not seen widespread adoption in the enterprise data center. It has lacked the performance needed to scale to handle an environment where the hosts are densely populated with virtual machines. Fibre channel block storage has continued to rule this kingdom.

Click to register for the upcoming webinar "Enterprise NAS for Highly Dense VM Environments"

Hitachi Data Systems, under the watchful eye of Storage Switzerland, set out to prove that a NAS system could indeed scale to meet the demands of a highly dense virtual environment, namely the ability to handle massive amounts of random I/O and the ability to scale capacity to meet the storage demands of these environments. You can get the detailed report on our findings by registering for our webinar “Enterprise NAS for Highly Dense VM Environments“. We will send you the report in advance of the webinar.

Dense VM Environments

After the initial virtualization rollout is complete an important second goal for organizations should be to increase VM Density, the number of VMs per host. Doing so can significantly improve the ROI of the original investment in virtualization. One impact of increasing VM density is on the storage systems supporting that virtual server or virtual desktop infrastructure.

Scale-out NAS systems are gaining popularity as they can expand on an as-needed basis, helping companies meet their capacity needs while maintaining overall storage performance. But a dense VM environment is another thing altogether. The potential for I/O bottlenecks are very real as hundreds of virtual servers or thousands of virtual desktops compete for resources, making users understandably skeptical about whether NAS can keep up in this demanding environment. This is especially for a clustered NAS architecture that has the added burden of inter-node communication.

As mentioned above, Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) recently ran a series of tests to determine if NFS-based storage could support the same or better VM density than a comparable fibre channel-based system. These tests, audited by Storage Switzerland, were run on an Hitachi NAS (HNAS) clustered configuration and an Hitachi Virtual Storage (VSP) G1000 platform.

The results were surprising and certainly indicated that, at least this NAS technology, was up to the challenge of supporting dense VM environments – if designed correctly. For more information on this topic and these tests, tune into the StorageSwiss webinar “Enterprise NAS for Highly Dense VM Environments”.

All pre-registrants for this webinar will receive an exclusive, advanced copy of Storage Switzerland’s Lab Report: “Designing Highly Scalable Storage for Dense VM Environments” emailed after they sign up.

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Eric is an Analyst with Storage Switzerland and has over 25 years experience in high-technology industries. He’s held technical, management and marketing positions in the computer storage, instrumentation, digital imaging and test equipment fields. He has spent the past 15 years in the data storage field, with storage hardware manufacturers and as a national storage integrator, designing and implementing open systems storage solutions for companies in the Western United States.  Eric earned degrees in electrical/computer engineering from the University of Colorado and marketing from California State University, Humboldt.  He and his wife live in Colorado and have twins in college.

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