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What is Virtual Machine Storage? – How Does it Works

Virtual Machine Storage

What is Virtual Machine Storage?

Virtual Machine Storage refers to the storage resources allocated to and utilized by virtual machines (VMs) in a virtualized computing environment. VMs operate as independent, isolated instances of operating systems and applications running on a single physical server. The storage for these VMs includes virtual hard disks (VHDs) or virtual disk images, data stores (storage locations), and related management components.

Virtualization abstracts physical storage, allowing multiple VMs to share and access storage resources without being aware of the underlying hardware. Storage management within this context involves provisioning, monitoring, and optimizing storage for VMs. Features like snapshots and cloning enable data protection and efficient VM deployment.

Efficient VM storage management is crucial for optimal performance, resource utilization, and data integrity in virtualized environments. Different virtualization platforms and storage solutions offer various features and integration levels, so selecting the right combination is vital for the success of virtualized workloads.

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How Virtual Machine Storage Works?

Virtual Machine (VM) storage operates through a layered process that combines hardware and software abstraction

Virtual Hard Disks (VHDs): VMs utilize VHDs, which are files mimicking physical hard drives. VM data, including OS and apps, resides here.

Hypervisor Abstraction: A hypervisor (e.g., VMware, Hyper-V) abstracts physical storage devices, creating a virtual storage layer for VMs.

Datastores: In systems like VMware, datastores pool physical storage into logical units. VM files are stored here, isolating VMs from underlying hardware.

Storage Provisioning: Thin provisioning allocates storage dynamically as VMs need it, while thick provisioning reserves space upfront.

Snapshot and Cloning: Snapshots capture VM states for backup or rollback. Cloning duplicates VMs swiftly for scalability.

Network Storage: Network-Attached Storage (NAS) or Storage Area Network (SAN) can be used. While SAN enables access at the block level, NAS offers access at the file level.

Quality of Service (QoS): QoS ensures VMs get necessary storage resources. It prevents performance degradation due to resource contention.

Backup and Recovery: VM storage integrates with backup tools. Snapshots and scheduled backups safeguard data.

Performance: Storage performance relies on hardware speed, hypervisor efficiency, and VM workload characteristics.

Data Management: VM storage requires provisioning, monitoring, and optimizing for reliable performance and resource efficiency.

Types of Virtual Machine Storage

  • File-based or Block-based:
    Within Virtual Machine Storage, file-based storage prioritizes simplicity for shared files, ideal in general and developmental contexts. In contrast, block-based storage excels in performance, suiting data-intensive tasks and critical applications, demanding more management complexity, often deployed in production settings. Selection hinges on performance needs, workload traits, and existing virtualization infrastructure.
  • Block-based or block access storage:
    Within Virtual Machine Storage, file-based storage prioritizes simplicity for shared files, ideal in general and developmental contexts. In contrast, block-based storage excels in performance, suiting data-intensive tasks and critical applications, demanding more management complexity, often deployed in production settings. Selection hinges on performance needs, workload traits, and existing virtualization infrastructure.
  • Local Storage:
    Virtual Machine Storage, local storage pertains to storage devices directly linked to an individual server or computer. Its proximity to the host enables rapid data retrieval, albeit without redundancy. Typical instances encompass internal hard drives and solid-state drives (SSDs). Local storage suits non-critical workloads or temporary data scenarios, emphasizing performance over extensive availability.
  • Network Attached Storage (NAS):
    Virtual Machine Storage, Network Attached Storage (NAS) is a network-connected solution that offers shared file-level storage accessible to multiple devices. Leveraging protocols like NFS or SMB, NAS facilitates seamless file access and collaborative sharing. Virtual Machine Storage solutions often employ NAS for centralized data management, backup, and efficient file collaboration in both home and business virtualization environments.
  • Storage Area Network (SAN):
    Virtual Machine Storage, a Storage Area Network (SAN) establishes a dedicated high-speed network, linking servers and storage devices to deliver block-level storage access. SANs offer scalable, efficient storage solutions within the virtualized environment, allowing data to be autonomously accessed and managed, detached from individual servers. Their common application lies in empowering high-performance virtualized applications and data-intensive workloads.
  • Fiber Channel (FC):
    Virtual Machine Storage, Fibre Channel (FC) serves as a high-speed network technology engineered for dependable data transmission, frequently harnessed within Storage Area Networks (SANs). It delivers low-latency, high-performance connectivity vital for mission-critical virtualized applications. FC’s scalability and data integrity features make it a preferred choice for enterprises seeking rapid and secure access to their virtual machine storage resources, even in intricate storage environments.
  • Virtual Hard Discs:
    In Virtual Machine Storage, Virtual Hard Discs are like virtual versions of real hard drives for virtual machines. They hold all the important stuff that VMs need to work, such as the operating system and apps. Just like how your computer has a hard drive, VMs have these virtual hard discs to keep everything organized and running.
  • Virtual SAN (VSAN):
    In the world of Virtual Machine Storage, Virtual SAN (VSAN) is a technology that takes scattered storage from different computers and turns it into a shared storage pool. This helps virtual machines access storage resources more efficiently. It’s like putting together a big storage puzzle from different pieces to make virtual machines work better.
  • Hyperconverged Infrastructure (HCI):
    Hyperconverged Infrastructure (HCI) in the context of Virtual Machine Storage combines computing, storage, and networking into one package. It simplifies managing storage for virtual machines by bundling everything together. It’s like having a single box that does many things at once, making it easier to handle storage for virtual machines and their needs.
  • Backup and Snapshot Storage:
    In Virtual Machine Storage, Backup and Snapshot Storage is like a safety net for your virtual machines. It captures copies of your VMs, called snapshots, so you can go back in time if something goes wrong. It’s your way of making sure your virtual machines are protected and can quickly recover from any mishaps.

Virtual Machine Storage Methods

Virtual Machine Storage employs various methods to manage data for virtual machines. File-based storage uses shared files, offering simplicity and ease for general needs. Block-based storage delivers high-performance, low-latency access with direct block-level data interaction. Local storage relies on disks directly attached to servers, providing fast access but lacks redundancy. Devices are linked to a shared file storage system across a network using network attached storage (NAS). Storage Area Networks (SANs) create dedicated high-speed networks for block-level storage access, ideal for enterprise setups. Each method caters to different performance, availability, and scalability demands in virtualized environments.

  • Host-based storage virtualization:
    Virtual Machine Storage, host-based storage virtualization is a method where software on the host server unifies various physical storage devices into a single, manageable resource pool. This pooling enhances storage efficiency, facilitates data movement, and presents a unified storage front to virtual machines, streamlining their access and management.
  • Network-based storage virtualization:
    Within the realm of Virtual Machine Storage, network-based storage virtualization is an approach that leverages specialized hardware or software to abstract and centralize storage resources across a network. This method enhances storage efficiency, simplifies data management, and optimizes access for virtual machines by presenting a unified and scalable storage pool. It allows VMs to access and utilize storage resources seamlessly, regardless of the underlying physical storage devices.
  • Array-based storage virtualization:
    Virtual Machine Storage, array-based storage virtualization uses special tools to manage multiple storage devices like they’re one. This makes it easier to handle storage for virtual machines, giving them a smoother and more efficient storage experience. It’s like having a smart organizer for all your storage stuff.

Benefits of Virtual Machine Storage

  • Efficient resource utilization and optimization.
  • Dynamic provisioning and scalability for changing workloads.
  • Enhanced data protection and disaster recovery through snapshots and backups.
  • Isolation to prevent VM issues from affecting others.
  • Centralized management for streamlined administration.
  • Redundancy and failover mechanisms for high availability.
  • Cost savings through resource maximization and reduced hardware requirements.
  • Improved VM performance with storage optimization techniques.
  • Scalability to accommodate growing storage needs.
  • Data mobility for easy VM migration across hosts and devices.

Virtual Machine Storage Interview Questions

  1. What is Azure Virtual Machine Storage?
  2. How does virtual machine storage function?
  3. What is the primary function of virtual storage?
  4. Do virtual machines have their own storage?
  5. What exactly is the cloud and virtual storage?

Frequently Asked Questions about Azure Virtual Storage

Storage virtualization is the process of combining physical storage from multiple storage devices to create what appears to be a single storage device, or pool of available storage capacity. Storage is managed from a central console.

Microsoft’s cloud storage solution for contemporary data storage scenarios is the Azure Storage platform.

Block-level storage volumes known as Azure-managed disks are controlled by Azure and utilized in conjunction with Azure Virtual Machines.

superior holding capacity. Premium storage is ideal for read- and write-intensive applications, but it can only be used with Azure virtual machine disks. A file share can have a maximum size of 5 TB.

Azure Files are more expensive than Azure disks, but they can be accessed simultaneously from multiple clients. Only the virtual machines (VMs) to which they are attached can access the Azure disks.

The temporary disk is only meant to hold data, such as page or swap files, and offers applications and processes short-term storage.

The Machine Folder. By default, each virtual machine has a directory on your host computer that contains all of the machine’s files, including the XML settings file (.vbox) and its disk images. This is the machine folder.

  • Increased efficiency
  • Diaster Recovery
  • Better resource allocation
  • Scalability
  • Resiliency
  • Security
  • Resource Utilization

By disconnecting a virtual disk from the designated computer, the Disconnect-VirtualDisk cmdlet revokes access to the virtual disk.

A virtual machine is a computer file, commonly known as an image, that behaves like a real computer. It can run in a window as a separate computing environment, often running a different operating system—or even serving as the user’s entire computer experience—as is common on many people’s office computers.

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