Understanding host-side space management

In a thinly provisioned environment, host side space management completes the process of managing space from the storage system that has been freed in the host file system.

A host file system contains metadata to keep track of which blocks are available to store new data and which blocks contain valid data that must not be overwritten. This metadata is stored within the LUN. When a file is deleted in the host file system, the file system metadata is updated to mark that file's blocks as free space. Total file system free space is then recalculated to include the newly freed blocks. To the storage system, these metadata updates appear no different from any other writes being performed by the host. Therefore, the storage system is unaware that any deletions have occurred.

This creates a discrepancy between the amount of free space reported by the host and the amount of free space reported by the underlying storage system. For example, suppose you have a newly provisioned 200-GB LUN assigned to your host by your storage system. Both the host and the storage system report 200 GB of free space. Your host then writes 100 GB of data. At this point, both the host and storage system report 100 GB of used space and 100 GB of unused space.

Then you delete 50 GB of data from your host. At this point, your host will report 50 GB of used space and 150 GB of unused space. However, your storage system will report 100 GB of used space and 100 GB of unused space.

Host-side space management uses various methods to reconcile the space differential between the host and the storage system.