in my opinion the terms

raw, qcow2, thin provisioned, sparse, preallocated

are used in sub optimal way in oVirt and RHEV documentation and create
confusion for the new incoming user (but not only to him/her)

My referrals for them are:

oVirt Admin Guide at:

and the draft RHEV 3.5:

Sometimes I have to come back to docs to clear my doubts and I'm never
fully satisfied.

I report below only some excerpts to explain my findings

1) Virtual disks can have one of two formats, either Qcow2 or RAW. The type
of storage can be either Sparse or Preallocated. Snapshots are always
sparse but can be taken for disks created either as RAW or sparse.

--> From above one concludes that "format" is one thing and "type" is
another thing and that all the mix format/type are in general possible
(depending on storage layout... see below): Qcow2/Sparse, RAW/Prellocated,
Qcow2/Preallocated, RAW/Sparse

But then, both in Ovirt and RHEV page
2) A virtual disk with a preallocated (RAW) format has significantly faster
write speeds than a virtual disk with a thin provisioning (Qcow2) format.
Thin provisioning takes significantly less time to create a virtual disk.
The thin provision format is suitable for non-IO intensive virtual machines.

--> now one concludes instead that format==type and that so
thin provisioning==Qcow2

and also indirectly that thin provisioning == sparse because in point 1)
the term sparse was the one used..
Indeed later, in section 12.2 of RHEV and in section "Understanding Virtual
Disks" of oVirt guide there is the classification of the 2 "types" again,
Preallocated and Thin Provisioned and the latter contains:
"For sparse virtual disks backing storage is not reserved and is allocated
as needed during runtime. This allows for storage overcommitment ..."
And this confirms that sparse==thin provisioned

In the same part for both docs

3) Table 11.1. Permitted Storage Combinations for oVirt and
Table 12.1. Permitted Storage Combinations for RHEV

Again there are almost-all the combinations described:
For file based storage (NFS) only Qcow2/Preallocated is not contemplated
For iSCSI/SAN only RAW/Sparse is not contemplated

4) Gluster
last but not least, It is not clear in my opinion where should be put
Gluster (file based or SAN based)... I think that depending on
POSIXFS_DOMAIN (pre 3.5, correct?) or GLUSTERFS_DOMAIN usage it could match
both of them....
As far as format, it seems both qcow2 and raw are possible

This message is just to share my uncertainty when I have to deal with disks
in oVirt and explain/compare with VMware, to make it possible to simplify
life to new users.
Coming from VMware world they know about:

- thin provision
- thick provision (lazy zeroed)
- thick provision (eager zeroed)

see also:

In my opinion it could be useful to have a preface with a short description
of all the terminology that will be used

HIH improving docs,

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