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How VMware Storage VMotion works -- and its benefits

VMware Storage VMotion allows you relocate virtual machine disk files between and across shared storage locations, which improves VM storage performance without creating downtime.

Part of VMware Inc.'s vStorage offering, Storage VMotion can move the virtual disk files of a running virtual machine, from one data store to another, with zero downtime for the virtual machine or end users. These data store are on different storage area networks (SANs) or on the local storage of an ESX Server. VMware's virtual machine storage migration does this while maintaining full data integrity. Additionally, the guest VMs can be running any guest operating system and the virtual machine file system (VMFS) that is moved can be stored on any type of supported ESX Server storage (such as Fibre Channel SAN, iSCSI SAN, Network File System, or local ESX server storage).

@ REG The uses and benefits of Storage VMotion 
Storage VMotion is useful in a several scenarios, including the following:

  • Moving virtual disks off of a SAN volume that has reached capacity
  • Moving virtual disks from one SAN to another to balance load, to replace a SAN or to take a SAN down for maintenance
  • Moving virtual disks from local ESX Server storage to a SAN

For example, say that you have two or three older and slower SAN / NAS systems storing virtual machine disks. You purchase a new SAN and want to perform data consolidation. Storage VMotion would be used to move those virtual disks to the new SAN with no downtime for the virtual machines, applications, or end users.

I have used Storage VMotion when I create a VMware failover cluster such as a Distributed Resource Schedule/VMware cluster. In this case, I had to migrate virtual machine disks stored on the local ESX Server storage to a central SAN to create the cluster. We performed this move in the middle of the day with zero downtime for the end users.

Two of the six vSphere editions -- Enterprise and Enterprise Plus -- offer VMware's Storage VMotion. Additionally VMware's vCenter is required.

For more information on SVMotion go to VMware's Storage VMotion product page.

Return to guide's main page for more on VMware virtualization products and features

About the author
David Davis is the director of infrastructure at -- the global leader in video training for IT pros. He has several certifications including vExpert, VMware Certified Profession (or VCP), CISSP, and CCIE #9369. Additionally, Davis has authored hundreds of articles and six video training courses at Train Signal, where one of the most popular course is the VMware vSphere 4 video training course. His website is You can follow Davis on Twitter or connect with him at David on LinkedIn.


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