Write-Same vs XCopy when using Storage vMotion

I had a question last week about Storage vMotion and when Write-same vs XCopy was used. I was confident I knew the answer, but I figured I would do some testing. So what was the question exactly and the scenario I tested?

Imagine you have a virtual machine with a “lazy zero thick disk” and an “eager zero thick” disk. When initiating a Storage vMotion while preserving the disk format, would the pre-initialized blocks in the “eager zero thick” disk be copied through XCopy or would “write-same” (aka zero out) be used?

So that is what I tested. I created this virtual machine with two disks of which one being thick and about half filled and the other “eager zero thick”. I did a Storage vMotion to a different datastore (same format as source) and checked esxtop while the migration was on going:

CLONE_WR = 21943
ZERO = 2

In other words, when preserving the disk format the “XCopy” command (CLONE_WR) is issued by the hypervisor. The reason for this is when doing a SvMotion and keeping the disk formats the same the copy command is initiated for a chunk but the hypervisor doesn’t read the block before the command is initiated to the array. Hence the reason the hypervisor doesn’t know these are “zero” blocks in the “eager zero thick” disk and goes through the process of copy offload to the array.

Of course it would interesting to see what happens if I tell during the migration that all disks will need to become “eager zero thick”, remember one of the disks was “lazy zero thick”:

CLONE_WR = 21928
ZERO = 35247

It is clear that in this case it does zero out the blocks (ZERO). As there is a range of blocks which aren’t used by the virtual machine yet the hypervisor ensures these blocks are zeroed so that they can be used immediately when the virtual machine wants to… as that is what the admin requested “eager zero thick” aka pre-zeroed.

For those who want to play around with this, check esxtop and then the VAAI stats. I described how-to in this article.

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