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Virtual Machine Manager Levels Load For Colorado Agency

Instead of spending $250,000 on new Fibre Channel disks, state officials used Akorri's BalancePoint to realign the way logical storage units were using shelves to spread the I/O load.

Last fall, as a Colorado housing agency's virtual servers began to slow, manager Steve Perkins concluded that either the Dell two-way hosts couldn't keep up with demand or he was running out of disk space on his Fibre Channel storage network.

As it turned out, it was neither.

A local consulting firm hired to troubleshoot the problem, Long View Systems, found he had plenty of spare CPU power and good disk capacity still available. But he was experiencing heavy I/O contention as his 50 virtual machines sought to read and write to one of his four shelves, the 15-unit disk arrays around which he organized his storage area network.

Long View Systems had applied a virtual machine management tool, Akorri's BalancePoint, and spotted the I/O problem as it watched his virtual machine operations. BalancePoint also formulated several recommendations under "what if" scenarios that helped him find a way out of the dilemma.

When BalancePoint drew a picture of what was wrong with his environment, it showed some I/O channels "running in the red, which is bad," he said. As he reconfigured storage, the display changed to green, or spare capacity available.

"Last September, we were in reactive mode -- just do things to get it fixed. Now we have the ability to put in a much better storage environment," said Perkins.

Instead of spending $250,000 on new Fibre Channel disks, Perkins instead realigned the way his logical storage units were using his shelves to spread the I/O load.

"We had some system logs on the same disks as [Microsoft] SQL Server data," said Perkins, manager of infrastructure technology, in an interview. The Colorado Housing and Finance Authority is a data-intensive environment as it issues state-backed bonds to raise funds and underwrites home loans to first-time or low- and middle-income buyers in the state.

"The SQL Server people wanted me to put in their own dedicated disks. We're not doing that," he said.

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