Top 10 things to read about VMware storage

By Eric Siebert

-- Several storage options are available when you're deploying VMware Infrastructure 3 (VI3), including Fibre Channel SAN, iSCSI, and NFS. It's important to understand the characteristics of each so you can choose the best storage option for your environment. Once you choose a storage device and configuration, it is also critical that you configure it properly. Because a disk drive is a mechanical device, it is one of the slowest resources and often one of the first bottlenecks for a host server.

The following list includes VMworld presentations, White Papers, and guides to help you make the right decision when you're choosing a storage option, and also to ensure you set up and configure your storage correctly.

1) SAN Configuration Guide
An in-depth guide from VMware on SAN background, installation and management.
2) SAN System Design and Deployment Guide
Another detailed guide from VMware on designing and deploying SAN environments for use with VI3.

3) Design, Build and Manage your SAN Environment using VI3
A VMworld 2007 presentation from VMware that discusses how VMware Infrastructure 3 can solve SAN management problems by providing solutions such as managing multiple hosts/clients; multi-pathing management without high cost and complexity; cluster file system for HA solutions; LUN security; and storage consolidation. This is a vendor-neutral session providing information for SAN architects and administrators, and ideas on ways to best deploy VI3 on SANs.
4) NFS & iSCSI - Performance Characterization and Best Practices
A VMworld 2007 presentation from VMware that provides a performance-oriented overview of the technology along with performance troubleshooting techniques and best-practice recommendations in typical ESX Server deployments. Performance data, a review of performance optimizations available currently, and a preview of features in upcoming releases are also be presented.


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5) Choosing and Architecting Storage for your Environment
A VMworld 2006 presentation on selecting and architecting the right storage solution for ESX environments.
6) ESX Storage Virtualization Insights
A TSX 2007 presentation on the ESX storage stack, VMFS vs. RDM, and multi-pathing.

7) Network Appliance and VMware ESX Server 3.0 Storage Best Practices
A White Paper from NetApp with general best practices and recommendations on using storage with ESX.
8) iSCSI, NAS and IP Storage Configuration for VMware ESX Server
A VMworld 2006 presentation on using iSCSI and NAS instead of a Fibre Channel SAN with ESX.

9) Comparison of Storage Protocol Performance
A VMware performance study comparing Fibre Channel, hardware- and software-based iSCSI, and NFS.

10) Configuring iSCSI in a VMware 3 environment
A White Paper from VMware on using and configuring iSCSI in ESX environments.

Eric Siebert is a 25-year IT veteran with experience in programming, networking, telecom, and systems administration. He is a moderator on the VMware community VMTN forum and maintains VMware-land.com , a VI3 information site.

This article was originally published on September 30, 2008