Do your Linux servers use LVM?

If not, you should strongly consider it.  Unless, you are using ZFS, BTRFS, or other “controversial” filesystems.  ZFS and BTRFS are outside of scope for this discussion but are definitely worth reviewing if you haven’t heard of them and are running Linux in your environment.

Logical Volume Manager for Linux is a proven storage technology created in 1998.  It offers layers of abstraction between your storage devices in your Linux system and the filesystems that live on them.  Why would you want to add an extra layer between your servers and their storage you might ask?

Here are some reasons:

  • Flexibility
    • You can add more physical storage devices if needed, and present them as a single filesystem.
    • Online maintenance – Need to grow or shrink your filesystems, online, and in real-time?  This is possible with LVM.
    • It is possible to live migrate your data to new storage.
    • Thin provisioning can be done, which can allow you to over-commit your storage if you really want to.
  • Device naming – you can name your devices something that makes sense instead of whatever name Linux gives the device.
    • Meaningful device names like Data, App, or DB are easier to understand than SDA, SDB, SDC
    • This also has the benefit of reducing mistakes when working with block devices directly.
  • Performance – it is possible to stripe your disks and improve performance.
  • Redundancy – it is also possible to add fault tolerance to ensure data availability.
  • Snapshots
    • This is one of my favorite reasons for using LVM.
    • You can take point-in-time snapshots of your system
    • Those snapshots can then be copied off somewhere else.
    • It is also possible to mount the snapshots and manipulate the data more granularly.
    • Want to do something risky on your system, and if it doesn’t work out, have a quick rollback path?  LVM is perfect for this.

So how does it work?

According to Red Hat :
“Logical Volume Management (LVM) presents a simple logical view of underlying physical storage space, such as hard drives or LUNs. Partitions on physical storage are represented as physical volumes that can be grouped together into volume groups. Each volume group can be divided into multiple logical volumes, each of which is analogous to a standard disk partition. Therefore, LVM logical volumes function as partitions that can span multiple physical disks.”

 

LInux logical volume management

 

I think LVM is much easier to understand with a diagram.  The above image illustrates some of the concepts involved with LVM.  Physical storage devices recognized by the system can be presented as PVs (Physical Volumes).  These PVs can either be the entire raw disk, or partitions, as illustrated above.  A VG (Volume Group) is composed of one or more PVs.  This is a storage pool, and it is possible to expand it by adding more PVs.  It is even possible to mix and match storage technologies within a VG.  The VG can then allocate LVs (Logical Volumes) from the pool of storage, which is seen as raw devices.  These devices would then get formatted with the file system of your choice.  They can grow or shrink as needed, so long as space is available in either direction for the operation.

You really should be using LVM on your Linux servers.

Without LVM, many of these operations discussed above are typically offline, risky, and painful.  These all amount to downtime, which we in IT like to avoid.  While some may argue that the additional abstractions add unnecessary complexity, I would argue that LVM really isn’t that complicated once you get to know it.  The value of using LVM greatly outweighs the complexity in my opinion.

The value proposition is even greater when using LVM on physical Linux nodes using local storage.  SAN storage and virtual environments in hypervisors typically have snapshot capabilities built-in, but even those do not offer all of the benefits of LVM.  It also offers another layer of protection in those instances.  Alternatively, the aforementioned ZFS and BTRFS are possible alternatives, and arguably better choices depending on who you ask.  However, due to the licensing (ZFS) and potential stability (BTRFS) issues, careful consideration is needed with those technologies.  Perhaps those considerations are topics for a future blog…

Want to learn more?  Please reach out, we’re here to help.

Centrally Manage Your Maintenance Contracts

Maintenance contracts are supposed to deliver peace of mind. Yet, when you have dozens of contracts with various vendors – all with different renewal dates, they can quickly become a headache.  We work with our customers to identify what hardware, users, vendors, and services are covered, as well as those that aren’t.  With this information, we put together a plan to ensure your business is protected from unexpected downtime while saving you money on unnecessary support costs.

Each year, maintenance costs swallow 15% to 25% of total enterprise IT budgets. IT staff must constantly reduce and control these expenses.  This is where we can assist you with doing a full evaluation of your maintenance contracts and advise you on the most cost-effective way of getting the coverage you need to keep your business protected.  This enables IT staff to contribute strategically and allocates resources toward innovation and business initiatives, and away from day-to-day maintenance.

 

 Ways to Help You Save Time and Money

 

HPE Hardware Maintenance Audit Process:

  • Work with customer to identify Asset Inventory starting with HPE Asset Report (CAP)
  • Collaborate with customer and HPE to gather any missing information
  • Identify what services/deliverables are required to meet customer expectations
  • Work to consolidate multiple support agreements via co-terming or combining contracts. This makes your renewals less frequent and allows for simplified budgeting.
  • Terminate retired products and licensing – This eliminates wasted money for products that are no longer in production.

Software Maintenance Audit Process

A complete audit of your organization’s 3rd party licensing may show licenses are allocated to users who no longer require the application to perform their duties.  Or, your business requirements have shifted, and you may need more functionality in your existing platform.  Whatever the situation, Zunesis can assist in identifying those needs and:

  • Work with the vendor to identify licensing entitlement, support expiration dates and service levels
  • Evaluate real usage and compare license utilization to entitlements
  • Negotiate a more cost-effective solution for your organization
  • Recommend alternative solutions to reach your business goals and objectives

In addition to hardware and software support management, we offer a full portfolio of IT services to ensure you are on track to meet your 2021 business objectives. Our IT assessment services can provide you with the information you need to make informed decisions on your cloud strategy, infrastructure, and much more.

 

 

IT Assessment Services:

Our IT Health Check Services compare your infrastructure design to best practices and support levels. From there, we make recommendations to improve service levels and offerings.

  • Reduce risk of downtime and lost productivity
  • Protect against ransomware and viruses
  • Work with a dedicated team of experienced IT professionals with a proven track record in managing industry-leading IT solutions. 
IT Health Check:
  • An IT health check represents an essential way of evaluating your business’ inner IT workings to ensure that there are no security breaches or potential problems
  • Review and document your current IT environment, review current support requirements, and make recommendations for changes and updates according to best practices and supportability.
Migration Services:

Our Migration Services will bring our expertise and experience to make sure your risk is minimized and the project goes as smoothly as possible.

  • Dedicated Support Team with industry certifications and expertise
  • Dedicated Project Manager to keep your migration on schedule and keep you informed via planning, tracking, reporting, and accountability for your most important projects.
Installation Services:

Our IT Installation Services ensure that your technologies are implemented efficiently and effectively—the first time.

  • Our comprehensive installation capabilities include servers, storage, networking, security, cloud, and backup and disaster recovery solutions.
  • We have the knowledge, experience, and certifications to install and implement nearly every solution we sell.

As with any initiative, a well-defined strategy and a coordinated approach are critical. This helps to implement an effective maintenance cost reduction initiative that compliments your IT objectives.

Managing support warranties, licensing, and IT infrastructure can be overwhelming.  Zunesis offers complete solutions in helping clients manage their IT infrastructure and warranties to avoid a gap in service. We provide the assurance that you are covered in case of an unexpected outage.

If you would like assistance in managing your multi-vendor support agreements, or to discuss solutions to ensure you have the most effective IT plan in place, please reach out to schedule a time to discuss how Zunesis can help your organization get your maintenance and infrastructure under control.

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