Virtualization Technology News and Information
Paragon Alignment Tool 3.0 for ESX Now Available for Remote Partition Alignment in the Virtual Environment

Backup and disaster recovery software developer Paragon Software Group released its Paragon Alignment Tool (PAT) ESX version — developed to facilitate partition alignment of virtual systems remotely. PAT ESX requires minimal virtual disk space (only 3–4MB per partition) to perform partition alignment with no need for additional space on the system for snapshots or copies of the processed volume. Should an unexpected interruption occur, the alignment operation can be continued without loss of data or need for restoration. The software supports VMware ESX, VMware ESXi, vCenter and vSphere.   

“With the growing trend in resource consolidation through virtualization, we are seeing significant increases in the number of virtual servers and workstations,” said Tom Fedro, president of Paragon Software Group. “Due to the transition of the storage standard from 512B to 4K sectors, the appearance of partition misalignment and performance issues in these systems are increasing. Our customers’ need to resolve these issues drove the development of PAT ESX.”

PAT ESX is a utility that provides easy and comprehensive management for virtual disk alignment operations. Installed on a virtual machine within the ESXi environment, management is performed from a Windows XP SP3+ or later operating system. PAT ESX enables access to all virtual disks remotely to check their state and perform alignments in an unattended mode. PAT ESX allows an administrator to browse data stores, select target virtual machines, and then connect to virtual disks to determine whether partition alignment is required. PAT then recommends alignment options if needed.

Partition Alignment Tool Benefits

  • Increase virtual machine operations’ performance up to 300 percent
  • Externally control, manage and align dozens of virtual drives belonging to different virtual machines (no need to install software on every virtual machine)
  • Decrease hardware costs by eliminating the need to have storage dedicated for migration functions

Paragon Alignment Tool Features

  • Remotely check, control and manage virtual disk alignment
  • Minimal disk space needed to perform alignment
  • No additional server space needed to store snapshots or copies of the processed volume
  • Alignment operation can be continued after an unexpected interruption (restoration not needed; there is no data loss)
  • Provides advanced alignment operation settings (administrator can choose between fast alignment settings or more secure data operations, which may be more time consuming)
  • PAT does not require root access to the server (no need to create new-user accounts); the software works under an existing account with administrator privileges
  • Supports scheduling; VMware ESX, VMware ESXi and vSphere; and change block tracking (CBT)
  • Ability to set partition alignment software operations according to your needs

“As virtual environments continue to expand in large enterprises, partition alignment is becoming more and more critical to the IT departments that manage them, as any non-aligned system will be the weak link in a virtual setting,” continued Fedro. “PAT ESX is specifically designed with a powerful feature set and easy to use interface to ensure there are no weak links.”

The Partition Alignment Challenge

Virtual hard drives are using page sizes similar to those found with newer Advanced Format Drives. Misalignment is very common for this type of drive, which results in redundant read/write operations, and critically affects overall performance and (indirectly) hardware lifespan. The same holds true for virtual hard drives — even a simple migration of a virtual machine from one VMware ESX Server to another could end up with a misaligned virtual drive. The situation aggravates when the host’s hard drive and virtual drives are both misaligned — the number of redundant read/write operations doubles.

PAT ESX is the latest edition of Paragon’s popular backup and disaster recovery product line including Hard Disk manager and Drive Backup. Visit the Paragon Software Group Web Site to read more about PAT for ESX.

Published Wednesday, October 05, 2011 6:09 PM by David Marshall
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