This post was co-authored by Ashwin Kabadi, Senior PM Manager, Azure Dedicated.

Today we announce the preview of disk pool activation Azure disk storage as a persistent storage option for Azure VMware Solution. With this announcement, you can add flexibility to your data needs with scalable and affordable cloud storage for VMware workloads running on Azure.

Azure VMware solution provides a comprehensive VMware environment that runs on Azure and includes VMware vSAN for storage virtualization in the dedicated software-defined data center (SDDC). As more customers consider the Azure VMware solution to support immediate migration needs, they are excited about the ability to use other Azure services to modernize these applications and increase efficiency. Today we see an exponential increase in storage requirements – with the total amount of data worldwide increasing from 45 ZB in 2019 to 175 ZB by 20251– and the scalability and flexibility of resources with the cloud has become a necessity for every company. The new integration of the disk pool with Azure VMware Solution combines the power of the well-known VMware technology, which runs on Azure, with efficient Azure Disk Storage.

Introduction to the disk pool for the Azure VMware solution

Disk Pool is an Azure service that provides an Internet Small Computer Systems Interface (iSCSI) endpoint for any underlying disks that have been added as storage targets so that you can access Azure Disk Storage for high-performance, persistent block storage. You can connect Azure VMware Solution to a disk pool and add disks as VMware data storage – just like you would connect VMware to the iSCSI endpoint available on local SAN appliances. This allows you to scale the storage of your Azure VMware solution environment independent of computational resources and thus lower your total cost of ownership (TCO). Not only can you gain additional capacity cost-effectively, but you can also take advantage of the unique Azure Disk Storage capabilities, including performance tiers, dynamic scaling, and bursting, that allow you to scale performance and optimize costs.

The hard disk pool not only offers access to block storage in Azure, but can also be integrated into the Azure VMware solution. It is fully managed by Azure and requires minimal effort on the part of the Azure VMware solution administrators. You can add new or existing Azure Ultra Disk Storage or Azure Premium SSDs to a disk pool and provide them as an individual Logical Unit Number (LUN) for connection to your Azure VMware Solution environment, which enables easy and direct mapping from a disk to an iSCSI -LUN and an Azure VMware Solution data store. We do not mandate a storage virtualization layer like Redundant Array of Independent Disks (RAID) in a disk pool, which changes the logic of placing your data to ensure that your data is always stored on the disks associated with your subscription.

For customers planning to host storage-intensive workloads, scale on Azure VMware Solution, hyper-converged infrastructure requires expansion of both compute and storage resources. Customers now have the option of scaling their storage independently of one another using a disk pool and adding complete nodes to the SDDC cluster only when necessary.

Common use cases and scenarios

  • Data-intensive workloads: For your data-intensive workloads – like SQL Server – running on Azure VMware Solution, you can easily reach the limits of storage capacity and performance of vSAN, which is based on the Azure VMware Solution nodes. The disk pool allows you to upscale your storage to either host active data sets with Ultra Disk Storage or to layer cooler data on premium SSDs for permanent storage. This avoids stranding cores or memory compared to scaling out with new Azure VMware solution hosts.
  • Disaster recovery: Customers who want to use Azure VMware Solution as a disaster recovery (DR) site can use the disk pool to provision a minimal three-node cluster. After the disk pool has been set up and connected to the Azure VMware Solution cluster, customers can use DR products such as VMware Site Recovery Manager with vSphere Replication to replicate the storage of protected workloads from their local VMware SDDC to the connected disk pool to the cluster. You can adjust the storage required as your workload protection needs change. In the event of a DR event where the Azure VMware Solution SDDC is the active site, you can scale the Azure VMware Solution cluster by adding nodes to meet the compute needs of your workload. This approach helps keep the total cost of ownership for DR down.

Getting started

Start with the hard disk pool in just a few steps:

  • Register your subscription to the resource providers and prepare your network and hard drive resources.
  • Create the disk pool and add disks to your disk pool.
  • Connect the disk pool to Azure VMware Solution.

You can follow that detailed instructions via the step-by-step setup. See the Planning advice for further optimization considerations for performance and scalability goals. Details on the prices can be found on the Azure Disk Storage pricing page.

If you would like to evaluate the use of the disk pool along with onboarding into the Azure VMware solution, visit our Documentation for the Azure VMware solution for more informations.

We look forward to your feedback on the Disk Pool preview. Please email us azdiskpool@microsoft.com.


1Source: IDC White Paper: Digitizing the World from Edge to Core

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