Automated Storage Tiering: 5 Reasons You Should Consider It

Organizations of all sizes implement virtualization to gain efficiencies for both IT and the company. Typically, the server admin group leads this charge by running other virtualized servers on “virtual hosts,” or existing physical servers. In other words, it is possible to implement server virtualization without ever changing the server, storage, or networking hardware. From a cost perspective, this is a huge benefit!  However, before you get started you must analyze your server and storage hardware to find out:

  • Are your server and storage hardware compatible?
  • Is a more efficient solution available? [Read more…]

Storage Virtualization: An attempt at making the complex simple.

Want to extend the life of your IT assets? SAN virtualization might be for you.  

 The explosion of data growth over the last decade put a lot of demands on IT in an era when budgets, particularly IT budgets, were under great strain.  While it was good news for all of us that most of the predictions of the Y2K era did not come true, IT suffered a setback in many organizations when it came to their ability to make sweeping changes in infrastructure. 

 While data continued its rapid growth, many IT departments suffered staff reductions.  With organizations operating at minimal staffing, the question of the day moved from, “How do I do more with less?” to, “How do I do more with the same?”  This still holds true today.

 Because most organizations in the early 2000’s were not looking at making big technology investments IT departments dealt with their growth in storage by implementing storage tiers and integrating additional discreet storage arrays.  Each array became a new point of management adding increased management complexity. 

All of the incremental complexity added up and the idea of storage virtualization was born.

 With storage virtualization you put an appliance with a layer of abstraction in front of the various discreet storage arrays in the environment.  The benefits, when done right, are tremendous.  Some of the benefits provided by storage virtualization include:

  •  Simplifying storage management by providing a single storage interface for all storage devices
  • Adding new software functionality (replication, cloning, snapshots, etc.) that adds to or improves on a storage asset’s capabilities.
  • Extending the life of older assets by allowing capacity to be redeployed.
  • Reducing the overall storage spend.

 You may ask, if it is so great, then why isn’t it everywhere.  I’m glad you asked.  Some of the earliest products in this space had [Read more…]

Virtual storage capacity management: an admin’s worst nightmare?

Most hear “server virtualization” and think: efficiency, ease of management, high availability and flexibility. But these benefits – the aim of sound IT planning – really only extend to the server (and in some cases application) layer. Administration, it turns out, is a whole other kettle of fish.

That’s because the complexities of introducing server virtualization into an environment force administrators to spend far more time than in the past on planning the overall capacity requirements of an environment and how to lay down data to ensure that the benefits virtualization brings to servers isn’t offset by problems to the storage environment.

Here are the three most common technology features created to help alleviate this pain point – as well as some of their pitfalls:

Thin Provisioning: Thin Provisioning allows administrators to show an OS/App/Hyper-visor an amount of storage they can grow into, while not actually allocating the physical space on the SAN/NAS. The SAN/NAS only allocates storage as data is written to it, so administrators can spend far less time planning — and only need to purchase and allocate what’s needed NOW, versus in 6 or 12 months.

DWhile thin provisioning provides a lot of value – extending existing capacity lifespan and lessening the number of tasks to manage virtual machines and data — it also causes issues. [Read more…]

Mixed storage too much to handle?

For some time now growing organizations have responded to exponential data growth and the need for more storage capacity for their different applications by simply buying new disk storage systems. An additional server here, a storage area network there. It worked well enough in the short term but because organizations – particularly those in the healthcare, retail and government sectors – were essentially building separate and dedicated storage islands, data management complexity increased and so did costs. Not to mention the resource constraints – both physical storage resources and human resources – IT organizations face if this complexity and growth remains unchecked.

Among the many pitfalls and challenges related to these heterogeneous storage environments:

1. Poor storage utilization rates of different SANs
2. Increased time to administer the storage
3. Expensive to purchase snapshot/replication licenses on multiple SANs
4. Difficult to migrate data between storage systems
5. Increased energy and floor space costs

That’s where storage virtualization comes in – [Read more…]