In todays world it’s quite common to virtualize higher priority / tier-1 applications and services. These applications and services are usually subject to service level agreements that typically include requirements for strong performance guarantees. For the compute resources (CPU and Memory) we are relying on the virtualization layer to give us that resource allocation solution by setting reservation, shares and limits. You might want to ensure that the storage requirements of these virtual machines are met and when contention for storage resources occurs these workloads are not impacted.
Today vSphere offers Storage I/O Control (SIOC) to allocates I/O resources based on the virtual machine priority if datastore latency is exceeded. Shares identify priority while limits restrict the amount of IOPS for a virtual machine. Although these are useful controls it does not provide a method to define a minimum amount of IOPS that is available all the time to the application. Providing lots of shares to these virtual machines can solve help to meet the SLA, however continuously calculating the correct share value in a highly dynamic virtual datacenter is cumbersome and complex job.
Storage level reservations
Therefore we are working on Storage level reservations. A storage reservation allows you to specify a minimum number of IOPS that should be available to the virtual machine at all times. This allows the virtual machine to make minimum progress in order to comply with the service level agreement.
In a relative closed environment such as the compute layer its fairly easy to guarantee a minimum level of resource availability, but when it comes to a shared storage platform new challenges arise. The hypervisor owns the computes resource and distributes it to the virtual machine it’s hosting. In a shared storage environment we are dealing with multiple layers of infrastructure, each susceptible to congestion and contention. And then there is the possibility of multiple external storage resource consumers such as non-virtualized workloads using the same array impacting the availability of resources and the control of distributing the resources. These challenges must be taken into account when developing storage reservations and we must understand how stringent you want the guarantee to be.
One of the questions we are dealing with is whether you would like a strict admission control or a relaxed admission control. With strict admission control, a virtual machine power-on operation is denied when vSphere cannot guarantee the storage reservation (similar to compute reservations). Relaxed admission control turns storage reservations into a share-like construct, defining relative priority at times where not enough IOPS are available at power-on. For example: Storage reservation on VM1 = 800 and VM2 = 200. At boot 600 IOPS are available; therefore VM1 gets 80% of 600 = 480, while VM2 gets 20%, i.e. 120 IOPS. When the array is able to provide more IOPS the correct number of IOPS are distributed to the virtual machines in order to to satisfy the storage reservation.
In order to decide which features to include and define the behavior of storage reservation we are very interested in your opinion. We have created a short list of questions and by answering you can help us define our priorities during the development process. I intentionally kept the question to a minimum so that it would not take more than 5 minutes of your time to complete the survey.
As always, this article provides information about a feature that is currently under development. This means this feature is subject to change and nor VMware nor I in no way promises to deliver on any features mentioned in this article or survey.
Any other ideas about storage reservations? Please leave a comment below.
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Would you be interested in Storage-level reservations?
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