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Insider Reports Thin Provisioning Risks

By Mary Jander October 26, 2007, 2;30 PM

While thin provisioning offers a convenient way to add storage quickly, it's not suitable for environments where rapid and regular storage consumption is the rule, according to the latest report from Byte and Switch Insider, a subscription research service affiliated with this publication.

"Fooling users and applications into thinking they have more storage capacity available to them than they actually do can cause problems. If they fill the actual physical storage at once, disk and application errors will occur, leading to significant downtime," writes author Martin Courtney in "Thin Provisioning & SANs: A Cure for Server Sprawl?"

This is hardly the first time thin provisioning, the technique whereby applications consume storage only as they write blocks or groups of blocks to a particular volume, has been issued a warning label. Guest author Tim Arland of Forsythe Solutions Group makes a similar point in his latest column, where he discourages users of OLTP apps from deploying the technology. And judging by readers' responses to his suggestions, the risks of thin provisioning are a concern for potential users.

All thin provisioning products on the market today, according to this month's Insider report, offer the ability to set thresholds on the use of physical storage, so administrators can stay ahead of any actual storage shortfall. Some leading-edge products offer a variety of alerts via email, pager, and SMS to make sure the message gets through.

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