This post is part of our Cloud Market Views series where we were reporting from the floor at VMworld 2011 in Las Vegas.
After years of fence sitting your company has finally started to virtualize. You were sold on flexibility and cost savings and you’re glad you did it because as new clients and business come in, you can handle the increased capacity without major infrastructure build out.
Yet after some growth you’re starting to see a performance problem across the entire infrastructure. What’s going on? Aren’t all the applications supposed to be running independently of each other? Why are you seeing sluggish performance everywhere?
More often than not, said Matthew Theurer, Sr. Vice President, Solutions Architecture for Virtustream, the problem lies in the storage area. It’s rarely an issue of space, but rather an inefficient level of I/O (input/output) to their storage layer.
“When companies are estimating their needs, they size for space not capacity,” Theurer said.
Virtual and cloud infrastructure allow you to scale up workloads so quickly and so easily that before you know it, you have virtual machine sprawl. Companies take for granted the fact that they’re virtualizing and they bring up more and more instances in a desire to service their customers. Problem is they don’t analyze how that will impact their underlying storage infrastructure. Just because you have 500 GB of space available, doesn’t mean you can manage the workload (I/O) to fill that space, explained Theurer.
Can your virtual environment handle your workload?
If you’ve got slow performance and time outs with applications running on your virtual environment, it’s possible you’ve got problems on your storage layer. The problem can sometimes be solved with additional disk spindles, sold state drives, or caching devices inside the host. Since you have to dig through multiple layers through virtual infrastructure into the storage area to see where the bottleneck lies, it’s not an easy problem to solve, said Theurer.
Luckily, VMware has done a good job of exposing information about the storage layer in their latest releases of vSphere 4.1 and 5.0. Still, that doesn’t make it easy to solve, said Theurer. The trick is to manage the interface between the virtual layer, VMware’s hypervisor, and the storage layer.