April 24, 2014

Storage Virtualization: What Is It Good For?

Even though storage virtualization technologies have been on the market for 20 years or more, and numerous companies have tried to sell it as a product in its own right for at least half that long, many are still unsure of what to do with the technology.  A great new piece by Dave Raffo, News Director at SearchStorage.com, discusses the wide variety of virtualization solutions and the real impact they can have.

Dave called me for this piece, and I was pleased with the question.  Truth be told, there really are compelling benefits from virtualization, but most folks have been waiting for a real “must have” killer application for the technology.  In order for this tech to make the impact it should, we in the industry have to change some of our thinking:

  • Storage virtualization means more than just Fibre Channel block aggregation.  There are great applications inside servers and arrays and in the NAS world, too.
  • Speaking of NAS, Microsoft DFS is probably the most-implemented storage virtualization product, and just about every NAS array has cool aggregation and migration features.
  • Virtualization is a feature, not a product.  HDS has seen the amazing potential for block virtualization in migration and storage flexibility, and this is just the tip of the iceberg.
  • Storage and server virtualization go well together – so well, in fact, that ESG reports that 24% of those who have implemented the latter are also using the former!
Update: This post was apparently picked up and translated into Chinese by IT168.com.
If you’re interested in storage virtualization, why not come on out for one of my seminars on the topic?  I’ll be in Atlanta and San Francisco next week, and I think spots are still available.  I’ll be in other cities, including London (where I’ll surely change the spelling to “virtualisation”) later in the year.  Or you can catch my one-hour session at Storage Decisions in San Francisco or New York.  See you there!
  • http://nigrebj.wordpress.com/ John

    I will fully admit my newbie status with storage virtualization. Are there any primer articles to get somebody up to speed? I run a group of CX3 (soon to be CX4) systems and just use real LUNs. What is the benefit from using virtual LUNs?

  • http://nigrebj.wordpress.com/ John

    I will fully admit my newbie status with storage virtualization. Are there any primer articles to get somebody up to speed? I run a group of CX3 (soon to be CX4) systems and just use real LUNs. What is the benefit from using virtual LUNs?

  • http://blog.fosketts.net sfoskett

    Great question, John!

    In and of itself, it’s good for nothing. But you can perhaps benefit from it if you need what it’s providing – flexibility mainly but also perhaps better performance or utilization. Small environments can benefit just as much from adding flexibility as big ones, but it can be harder to justify the price of traditional FC LUN virtualization.

    But I like to point out that there are lots of places you can implement storage virtualization and get major benefits. Consider especially volume managers on your servers, since they can be cheap or free.

    It’s hard to answer your question not knowing more about your environment, but there can be benefits. Start with the article in this post, and maybe download my storage decisions slide deck.

    Hope this helps,

    Stephen

  • http://stephen.fosketts.net Stephen

    Great question, John!

    In and of itself, it’s good for nothing. But you can perhaps benefit from it if you need what it’s providing – flexibility mainly but also perhaps better performance or utilization. Small environments can benefit just as much from adding flexibility as big ones, but it can be harder to justify the price of traditional FC LUN virtualization.

    But I like to point out that there are lots of places you can implement storage virtualization and get major benefits. Consider especially volume managers on your servers, since they can be cheap or free.

    It’s hard to answer your question not knowing more about your environment, but there can be benefits. Start with the article in this post, and maybe download my storage decisions slide deck.

    Hope this helps,

    Stephen