Operating with Efficiency: The Importance of Strong Storage Provisioning

Posted by VIOLIN SYSTEMS on Dec 1, 2020 10:01:27 AM

What if you rented multiple storage units to store holiday decorations, old books and furniture, and things like bicycles and sports equipment—only to find out that while you didn’t need as much space as your holiday decorations, you can’t store your extra furniture in that excess space? You’re stuck with nowhere to park your bicycle and too much extra space for your wreaths and ornaments.

With some outdated storage solutions, that’s exactly what can happen. You pay to keep up your storage space, but because it’s already been earmarked for a specific purpose, it goes unused—even if you’re paying to maintain it.

It’s not an ideal solution to the storage dilemma.

Storage provisioning is all about planning for your data storage needs. But as with any truly great plan, it needs to be adaptable to shift and meet your evolving needs. Here’s what you need to know about storage provisioning and why the kind of provisioning you choose matters.

What is Storage Provisioning?

Storage provisioning refers to assigning storage capacity to servers, computers, virtual machines, storage platforms, and other computing devices. While this is a fairly broad idea, storage provisioning is all about combining machine learning and manual mechanisms to allocate the way data is stored on the server within a network computing environment.

In storage provisioning, data is distributed among all connected devices. This might happen manually, or by the storage administrator, or set up to happen automatically or on-demand through a storage array network (SAN) software device.

For storage provisioning to be successful, it requires a great deal of planning upfront to predict storage requirements and create the optimal network to allow for fast, reliable data storage and retrieval. 

How Storage Provisioning Works

Storage provisioning is all about optimizing the performance of your SAN and can be a meticulous process. It’s done in gradual steps in a particular order. First, logical unit numbers (LUNs) are assigned within the network, and administrators establish data storage and recovery routes available to all users. Next, alternate pathways are put in place to prevent partial failures. Then, the storage administrators work to make sure that the SAN can accommodate future expansion. 

Once everything has been connected, and all the programs and pathways have been installed, the SAN needs to be tested before any sensitive or valuable data is committed to the system. Additionally, automated storage provisioning, also called auto-provisioning, is available to lessen the amount of time the storage provisioning process can take. After all, manual provisioning is costly, labor-intensive, and not the best use of resources.

Thick and Thin Provisioning

Storage provisioning comes in two different forms: thin provisioning and thick provisioning.

  • Thick provisioning: This refers to how the total volume of storage is used. In thick provisioning, all storage space is used and spoken for before the storage network starts to allocate data. This means that if you create 50GB of disk space, all 50GB of storage space is spoken for even if there is no data written to the disk. Usually, this means a lot of storage space goes unused, which goes to waste because storage has already been partitioned off when it was created. Some users don’t like this formatting because they have to pay for the pay and pay to maintain it, even if you can’t use it. 
  • Thin provisioning: With thin provisioning, only the space that’s needed is what’s allocated at the time it’s required. This means you only use the amount of storage space you need, giving you the ability to plan for both current and future storage requirements, eliminating wasted space and wasted maintenance. With thin provisioning, you don’t have the same issues with thick provisioning—things like paying for virtual storage capacity that goes unused. Instead, when storage is needed, you can add more storage volumes. This makes thin provisioning an excellent solution for systems like SANs and in storage virtualization environments. 

Because thin provisioning is a much more economical, efficient way to allocate data, it’s a far superior solution to thick provisioning because of the time and resources saved.

Data Reduction and Thin Provisioning

When used in tandem with data deduplication and data compression, thin provisioning can be a dynamic way to allocate storage so that more data can be stored on your storage platform. This is achieved by eliminating the pre-allocation of unused capacity that happens with traditional provisioning. With thin provisioning, you get an efficient, on-demand storage consumption model that takes up less space. 

One thing to keep in mind about using thin provisioning and calculating storage savings: It requires caution. Since data reduction results are based on the virtual capacity provisioned, your storage capacity may change without much correlation to your platform’s data or maximum storage. 

Thin Provisioning and “Data Reduction” in Primary Storage

Thin provisioning is a critical technique to maximize storage—it improves storage efficiency, lowers costs, and better utilizes available resources. You don’t have to pay for so many disks and can pay less in support fees. This also helps limit the total cost of operation that accompanies the task of managing storage. 

Why is this so important? Static data increases much faster than active data. By removing the burden of dealing with static data from expensive primary storage, you improve application performance and cost. Thin provisioning is a vital part of this process.

Thin provisioning allows you to eliminate unnecessary reserve on unwritten storage blocks. This reduces the overprovisioning of storage resources so that data can be more logically provisioned.

While technically, this is not an actual “data reduction” technique, thin provisioning optimizes storage, which in effect, achieves many of the same things as data reduction, which is why it’s used so prevalently by storage vendors like VIOLIN Systems.

Thin Storage Provisioning with VIOLIN Systems

VIOLIN Systems makes full use of all the perks of thin provisioning to keep your solution lightweight, streamlined, and running well to build a system that’s agile, scalable, and fast without overprovisioning. Essentially, this means more storage space for less money and flash and automated cloud provisioning.

Even in private cloud infrastructure, VIOLIN Systems storage provisioning makes it easier to store and access data on demand quickly and efficiently. With the VIOLIN QV2020, thin provisioning gives users their power back with low latency, private storage solutions, and the ability to scale—without wasting excess storage or valuable resources, as can happen with thick provisioning models. 

VIOLIN Systems Storage Management Plugin (VSMP) also enables end-to-end storage provisioning through an all-flash array. This makes for a system that’s flexible, extensible, and requires very little hands-on attention. And since the VSMP operates using thin provisioning, you’re not paying for unused storage space.

There’s no reason to waste time and resources on thick provisioning when you can maximize the way you utilize your storage space with VIOLIN’s all-flash array and thin provisioning system. Hence, your datastores operate efficiently—precisely the way you want them to.

VIOLIN Systems has the data solutions and provisioning capabilities to make the most of your storage system. Want to learn more about what we can do for you? Contact us today!

Topics: flash storage management, Storage Provisioning