Advantages of VAAI and Enabling VAAI on Lefthand P4500 G2 SAN with vSphere 5

In preperation for taking the VCP5 exam I have been doing a lot of reading on vSphere 5.  One of the topics was VAAI which is vSphere Storage API’s for Array Integration(VAAI). After some Google searching, it appears that LeftHand SAN’s do support VAAI.  So that is great news, since it can dramatically increase performance.  What VAAI does it offload some of the storage tasks from the ESXi hosts, onto the storage array itself.  Below are some more specific details of what it does and how it improves performance.

Array Integration allows for Hardware-Assisted Locking which locks on a per sector basis instead of locking the entire LUN.  This can have a substantial increase in performance when a lot of changes in metadata occur, such as when many VM’s are powered on at once.

Hardware-Accelerated Full Copy allows for the storage itself to make entire copies on its own, without having to send any read/write requests through an ESXi host.  Events such as cloning VM’s or deploying new VM’s from templates have a significant reduction in storage traffic between the ESXi host and the array.

Hardware-Accelerated Block Zeroing allows storage arrays to zero out blocks very quickly and speeds up the process of creating new VM’s and formatting virtual disks.

vSphere5 is also thin provisioning aware, and when coupled with VAAI allows you to reclaim dead space and give you advanced warning when approaching out of space conditions.

VAAI Whiteboard
VAAI Performance Info

By default, VAAI is enabled and supported with ESXi 5 so nothing had to be done in vSphere 5 or on the P4500 SAN.

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