Posted by: Chris Barker.
A recent VMware and storage expansion project for one of our customers reminded me of just how beneficial server virtualization can be, and just how much easier it can make our lives.
After adding some new SAN storage and migrating the customer’s virtual machines onto it, the customer asked me if we could expand the available space on one of their virtual file servers so they they could offer their users larger home directories.
If this had been a physical file server, then we would have been looking at ordering more or higher capacity hard drives and waiting for them to arrive, fitting them into the server’s disk enclosure (assuming there was room – if not then we would have had to consider replacing the drives one at a time and rebuilding the array in between, or replacing all the drives and restoring the data from backup), expanding the RAID array to use the new space, presenting the space to Windows, and then expanding the Windows drives. This may have taken days, or even weeks, and depending on the RAID controller may have required significant downtime for the system.
Because this was a virtual server, we were able to complete the process in minutes with zero downtime by utilising the power of VMware vSphere and Fusion-io storage. All that was needed was to expand the LUN, rescan the VMware datastores, expand the VMFS volume, expand the virtual disk and then expand the drive in Windows. This was all done while the server was running, with no interruption to services and no inconvenience to end users.
Many of us are at the point where we take features like this for granted, but if you are still struggling to manage physical servers and plan for costly downtime then why not consider virtualization as a less painful route forwards?