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 good functionality, but were not built on robust, enterprise class hardware and lacked vendor support.  Many of the major vendors came out with their versions but did not provide real support for other manufacturer’s products.  They simply served as a lightly disguised Trojan Horse to try and displace competition, not interoperate with it.

 That being said, some solid solutions have emerged in the market with good multi-platform support, enterprise class products and strong functionality.  If you are looking for ways to add capabilities to your storage environment while lowering operational cost and minimizing capital expenditures, we highly recommend considering storage virtualization solutions.

Dealing with complexity is an inefficient and unnecessary waste of time, attention and mental energy. There is never any justification for things being complex when they could be simple.

– Edward de Bono, Leader on Creative Thinking, 1933

This post is part of the Choose Your Own Infrastructure Series

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About Ferrol Macon

Ferrol Macon’s career for more than 20 years has lived at the intersection of people and technology. He has been a part of designing storage and data management solutions for companies large and small in almost every industry.