When IT administrators consider implementing thin provisioning for storage, it's not as easy as simply checking a box on an RFP, it's more than that as 3PAR's InServ storage system and the newest release of its InForm operating system have proven with its announcement this week at Storage Networking World.
Thin provisioning is the ability, without administrative overhead, to allocate virtual volumes once and autonomically consume physical capacity for written data. It lets IT administrators meet capacity requirements, support multiple service levels and drive efficiencies in the data center.
Traditionally, provisioning refers to the ability to pre-allocate blocks of data to applications, with the result being that capacity remains locked up and unused when data is not written to the volume. By contrast, 3PAR's thin provisioning allows over-allocation of disk capacity as blocks of data are released as capacity is required. Consider this example: 3PAR's thin provisioning has been expanded with the introduction of Thin Conversion, Thin Persistence, Thin Copy Reclamation and Thin Reclamation for Symantec's Veritas Storage Foundation.
In this newsletter, we'll explain Thin Conversion.
3PAR's Thin Conversion converts traditional "fat" volumes into thinly provisioned volumes -- it maps out stranded capacity by deleted files and virtual machines. Thin Conversion provides for the non-disruptive migration of data at line speeds from legacy storage environments to 3PAR InServ Storage Servers.
3PAR's Thin Conversion differs from competitive implementations that are either professional services based and require the same "fat" allocated capacity to be purchased upfront and then the thin conversion process is applied as post processing step. The end user still has to purchase the full allocated capacity upfront and this defeats the purpose of thin conversion. Software-only implementations for Thin Conversion suffer from severe performance limitations. It also differs from thin provisioning approaches that have too large a write allocation size, which can consume many megabytes of capacity or approaches that are reservation-based and create silos of allocated but unused capacity and require man-hours of work to size, provision and manage storage. 3PAR's Thin Conversion implementation is reservationless and works with 16KB allocation units. It boosts capacity utilization without complexity and eliminates service level impacts on other workloads.
The technology could be deployed in two common scenarios: first, in migrating from traditional fat volumes on legacy systems to thin volumes on 3PAR InServ storage, and second, in situations where IT has originally deployed fat volumes on an InServ Storage Server and now wants to convert them to thin volumes to save on capacity utilization and expenditures for more storage.
Because 3PAR's thin conversion actually reduces the amount of storage capacity required to store data, users can expect to have CAPEX savings on purchases of additional capacity as well as the ongoing OPEX of hosting, powering and cooling storage systems. Thin conversion is available as an orderable product from 3PAR.