Thin Provisioning

The Key to Cost-Effective Storage Management

What is Thin Provisioning?

Thin provisioning is a storage management technique where the storage capacity is allocated dynamically based on the actual data needs rather than being fully allocated upfront. This approach optimizes storage utilization, reducing costs and enhancing flexibility. In thin provisioning, physical storage is abstracted and appears as a pool of virtual storage to users and applications.

As data grows, additional storage is seamlessly allocated without the need for manual intervention or pre-allocating large volumes. Thin provisioning storage is particularly beneficial for environments where storage requirements are unpredictable or expanding, ensuring efficient use of storage resources while maintaining high availability and performance.

Even though the cost per GB is dropping, there is no need to waste space when there is a simple solution to maximize utilization of it. Thin provisioning, also referred to as virtual provisioning, provides this solution by allocating physical space in smaller pieces rather than allocating and dedicating the entire volume at provisioning time.

The volume presented appears to be the full provisioned capacity to the application servers, but nothing has been allocated until write operations occur. This not only delivers 3x better storage utilization but also eases system administration because there is no penalty for presenting large volumes to the application servers on day one.

Thin provisioning is inherent in virtual disk pools. Simply create a virtual volume from a disk pool, present it to the application servers and SANsymphony does the rest. Disk pools span all physical devices in the pool, and are not dependent on any host, operating system, or server hypervisor.

Thin Provisioning Diagram
Thin provisioning provides outstanding storage utilization efficiency by writing data to the backend disks only when data is written by the applications. This results in 3x better storage utilization.

Feature Highlights

  • Appears to computers as very large drives  (e.g. >2 TB virtual disks from a few hundred GB drives)
  • Dynamically allocates more disk space when required
  • Notifies you when it’s time to add capacity
  • Reduces need to resize LUNs
  • Reclaims zeroed out disk space

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