Storage profiles in vSphere5 allow you to organise you storage within vSphere based upon its capabilities. vSphere includes some specific API’s that can detect a storage devices specific capabilities however not many storage devices support this function at the moment.
However you can also create user defined storage profiles which allow you to assign capabilities to datastores and then create storage profiles that you can link to the datastores capabilities. This allows you to ensure that your virtual machines get the storage capabilities that they need to perform within your own agreed SLA.

In order to use storage profiles you need to decide what capabilities of your shared storage you want to use to segregate your vm’s with. For example you may have a SAN with a high speed SAS set of disks along with a lower speed SATA array. In this example the choice is quite straight forward as you have a slower capacity based array and a smaller high speed array as well. In this instance you could create storage profiles to represent Capacity or Performance.

With this in mind let’s create a storage profile with these two parameters. Firstly click on Home/vm storage profiles.
1/ Click on manage storage capabilities then click the add button and in this instance lets just call the capabilities Fast and Slow. Create a separate entry for Fast and one for Slow.

2/ Then click on the “Create VM Storage Profile” button. Because we have a fast and slow choice I’m going to use the names Tortoise and Hare as the names of the storage profiles. So give your first storage profile a name in this instance Tortoise then select next. You then need to select the storage capabilities to assign to the storage profile. In our instance we want to assign the Slow capability to the Tortoise Storage Profile. Click Next and then review the information and click Finish.

NB. You can assign two storage capabilities to a storage profile. However because you may also have system defined storage profiles you must not exceed 2 assigned capabilities per datastore. For example you could have 2 capabilities defined in a user defined storage profile but no system defined storage, or you could have one user defined capability in a user defined storage profile and one capability defined in a system defined storage profile.

Create another storage profile for the Hare and assign it to the Fast storage capability.
3/ Then click on the Enable VM Storage Profiles and just click the enable button.

4/ Now all you have to do is assign the user defined storage profiles to your datastores/dataclusters so click on Homedatastores and datastore clusters. Right click on a datastore then select assign user storage capability and select the storage profile you wish to assign to the datastore.
If you have datastore clusters you cannot assign a user defined storage profile to a datastore cluster root however if you assign the same user defined storage profile to each datastore in the cluster then the cluster will inherit the user defined storage profile.

When you are ready to create a new virtual machine you will now have an additional option in the new vm wizard to select the storage profile you need for the vm then it will show you the compliant and non-compliant datastores that you can use on the vm.

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