Storage virtualization technologies can help companies use their existing storage assets more efficiently through simplified management and ultimately at a lower cost.
In its original incarnation, storage virtualization simply abstracted disk hardware from the operating system (OS). But since then, it's been developed and deployed on a much wider scale. The storage virtualization benefits, and recent advances in its ease of use and deployment, are resulting in a growing uptake of the technology.
Despite the advancements, modern storage systems are complex, so determining what type of storage virtualization technology to implement can be daunting.
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At the highest level, storage virtualization is implemented in one or more of three main areas: host server, storage array and network appliance or switch. If deployed efficiently, storage virtualization has the potential to maximize the capacity of existing hardware, an important consideration with the high volume of data growth the enterprise market is seeing.
Key storage virtualization benefits also include automated tiering, in which the most valuable data is placed on the highest-performing storage medium. The core advantage is that it matches the value of the data to the cost of the storage medium, using less energy and therefore reducing overall costs. Storage virtualization also underpins data protection and disaster recovery, as it is a key enabling technology for options such as snapshotting and replication.
However, like any technology, there are issues to watch out for with storage virtualization. For instance, it introduces a new layer of software to manage, it needs to be able to scale to meet performance requirements and it brings new practices that IT staff need to learn. Beyond that, the ROI is hard to quantify before a project begins. And each type of storage virtualization brings its own set of considerations.
For all the details of storage virtualization benefits and key considerations, check out this Buyer's Checklist.
This was first published in October 2012