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hypervisor-aware storage

This definition is part of our Essential Guide: The evolution of data center storage architecture

Hypervisor-aware storage, also called virtualization-aware or VM-aware storage, is a category of storage array that provides administrators with the ability to correlate an application on a virtual machine (VM) with the underlying physical storage.  

One of the challenges of traditional storage systems in server virtualization environments has been provisioning and managing storage at the logical unit number (LUN) level. Typically, a LUN is assigned to a physical server and storage from the LUN is then assigned to a VM. Hypervisor-aware storage provides administrators with insight into how many VMs are using that storage, how many input/output operations per second (IOPS) each VM generates and which VMs are write-intensive. They can also provide administrators with information about the capabilities of the underlying physical storage, such as its interconnect speeds and thin provisioning and deduplication capabilities. This information can be useful for storage capacity planning, automation and combining automated tasks into a workflow, which is called orchestration.

Vendors are addressing the complexity of managing storage in heavily virtualized environments in different ways and may use the label "hypervisor-aware storage" to describe very different approaches.  For example, some hypervisor-aware storage system vendors have changed their storage architecture so administrators can provision and manage storage at the VM level, while others have complemented traditional storage systems with auxiliary tools and application program interfaces (APIs) that can provide administrators with complete data paths and insight into the underlying physical storage. 

This was last updated in April 2014

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