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VMware vSphere 4 introduces many new features that enable greater efficiency, control, and choice for storage resources. With the full support for thin provisioned virtual disks, VMware has provided a new management optimization feature that, if correctly used, can save significant storage resources. However, if not used correctly, could result in management challenges. This paper examines the capabilities of thin provisioning, enhancements to VMware vCenter in vSphere, and addresses best practices to ensure thin provisioned virtual disks are a benefit and work to their full potential. This paper also explains how thin virtual disks fit into the overall storage stack, and how virtual disk thin provisioning operates with array-based thin provisioning and dynamic expansion of virtual disks, VMFS volumes, and LUNs within the array.
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