One of the many new features of XenServer 5 is advanced integration with Storage Infrastructure. The Citrix XenServer Adapter for Dell EqualLogic integrates server and storage functionality on a single management interface and delegates tasks according to each platform’s core strengths.

As an integrated virtualization solution, XenServer and EqualLogic allows you to maintain high operating efficiency by delegating such advanced capabilities as Thin Provisioning, Fast Cloning, and Automated Snapshots to the EqualLogic SAN. Thin Provisioning helps IT administrators control costs by dedicating only the storage capacity needed in the short term, and maintaining unallocated storage in a common pool for later use by applications or user groups as disk resources are actually consumed. Fast Cloning lets storage administrators create copies of entire volumes as a background process, without disrupting network operations.

Once created, clones can be used to accelerate the provisioning and deployment of standardized VMs, as well as to test new applications, configurations or procedures. Snapshots are efficient captures of storage volumes that can be created without disrupting network operations, for use in backing up or testing data. In addition, XenServer supports iSCSI multipath I/O (MPIO) and simplified disaster recovery, two strategic tools for improving business continuity even in the event of network failures or other outages. MPIO support allows multiple network paths — e.g., separate subnetworks or VLANS — for both the SAN arrays and the virtualization servers,
as a means of both improving performance and safeguarding against Ethernet switch failures or other network problems. Disaster recovery tools apply snapshot and fast cloning technologies to the processes of initial VM placement, the real-time
movement of VMs via XenMotion, and automatic high availability.

Achmad Chadran of Dell Equallogic blogged about this integration from VMWorld

the integration module goes even further, by:

  • Streamlining the VM provisioning process all the way through the creation and assignment of virtual disk drives
  • Relieving XenServer resources from having to perform burdensome storage tasks
  • Taking storage technology further out of its traditional “black arts” realm and into a more business-focused IT culture

After you try out this integration with your own implementation of Dell Equallogic, you will understand why Achmad says this is a “very cool piece of engineering“.

Peter Blum put together an excellent overview video that demonstrates this new integration with Dell EqualLogic.

(click to play)