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How do hyper-converged systems change storage provisioning for VMs?

Hyper-converged architectures make provisioning storage for VMs simpler by integrating it into configuration options.

Hyper-converged systems attempt to collapse the data center infrastructure into a single, more manageable unit. These systems leverage the compute capabilities of a virtual server infrastructure to also power storage and networking software. The promise of hyper-converged infrastructures is compelling: reduced deployment time and operational time, and reduced costs. But these systems do raise questions when it comes to storage and provisioning.

Hyper-converged systems typically aggregate internal storage (hard drives and solid-state drives) from all the servers in the virtual cluster into a single pool of storage. Assuming your hyper-converged vendor has properly integrated in with the hypervisor, the provisioning of storage should be just another configuration question to answer when provisioning the virtual machine (VM). In most cases, the question is how much capacity to allocate to the VM.

Most hyper-converged software options also thin provision that capacity request, only allocating physical storage when it is actually consumed. In this case, the answer to the provisioning question is really more of a limit. How much capacity will you allow that VM to have at a maximum value?

Some hyper-converged systems may create separate pools of storage based on media type (flash, performance hard disk drives and capacity hard disk drives). The administrator may be required to decide which type of volume the VM being created will be stored on. If they need to move this VM to a different type of storage in the future, then another step will be required.

Other hyper-converged storage platforms will automatically move data between the different types of storage media. Some will leverage flash resources dedicated to the server that the VM is running while provisioning hard disk resources across an aggregated pool. This provides high-speed local performance, data protection and mobility for the VM.

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