Example Architectural Decision – Storage I/O control for IaaS solutions

Problem Statement

In vSphere clusters servicing IaaS or Cloud workloads where customers or departments have the ability to self provision virtual machines with varying storage I/O requirements, how can the cluster be configured to ensure the most consistent virtual machine performance from a storage perspective?


1. vSphere 5.1 or later (to support both VMFS and NFS datastores and SIOC Automatic latency threshold computation)


1. Ensure consistent storage performance for all virtual machines
2. Prevent a single virtual machine preventing other virtual machines reasonable access to storage

Architectural Decision

Enable Storage I/O control for all datastores and leave the shares values at the default setting for all virtual machines.

Set Tier 1 storage congestion threshold to 10ms – eg: SSD or SAS 15k RPM
Set Tier 2 storage congestion threshold to 20ms – eg: 15k or 10k SAS
Set Tier 3 storage congestion threshold to 30ms Рeg: 7.2k SATA


1. In a IaaS or Cloud environment, it is important to prevent intentional or unintentional DoS type attacks; Storage I/O control will prevent such activities by giving equal access to the storage for all virtual machines attempting concurrent access.
2. Ensure no virtual machine/s monopolize the available I/O of the underlying storage eg: The noisy neighbor issue
3. Storage I/O control ensures consistent access across all ESXi hosts with access to the datastore, not just a single host. This ensures equal I/O access across the environment, not just across a single ESXi host.
4. Tier 1 should maintain lower latency than lower Tier disk, as such, a lower congestion threshold is advisable to ensure optimal performance for virtual machines hosted on Tier 1
5. Virtual machines requiring significant I/O will not be significantly impacted by Storage I/O control (assuming the congestion threshold is reached) as other VMs requiring access to storage will be able to access storage (thanks to Storage I/O control) and complete any required I/O in a timely manner and once the I/O is completed, no longer impact performance at all.
6. Virtual Machine not accessing storage regularly will not impact the VMs accessing storage regularly as Storage I/O control only acts on VMs accessing storage concurrently.
7. Leaving VMs with the default share value decreases administrative overhead and prevents human error granting significantly higher (or lower) share values which may negatively impact performance for one or more VMs


1. When using Storage DRS with SIOC the Storage DRS I/O latency setting needs to be carefully considered. Setting these value below the SOIC values (assuming Manual latency values are set) is recommended to ensure Storage DRS can work towards evenly balancing the storage workload and improving overall performance & SIOC then can help ensure consistent performance by taking action when the congestion threshold is reached to minimize latency spikes.


1. For vSphere 5.1 environments use the “Automatic Latency Threshold” by selecting the “Percentage of Peak Throughput” and setting the percentage value to “90%”. This setting is designed to minimize the change of a misaligned congestion threshold being manually set, therefore potentially reducing the effectiveness of SIOC
2. Not enable Storage I/O control
3. Enable Storage I/O control and set higher than default share values on critical VMs