Storage Virtualization - the road ahead...
(Posted on behalf of Vaibhav Jain)
A decade ago the management of disk storage was very simple and uncomplicated; if we needed more space then we replaced low capacity disk drive with a high capacity disk drive. But as the organization grew, data grew, so we started thinking about adding multiple disk drives. Now finding and managing multiple disk drives became harder, so we developed RAID (Redundant Array Independent Disk), NAS (Network Attached Storage) and SAN (Storage Area Network).The next step in storage Technology is storage virtualization, which adds a new layer of software and hardware between storage and servers.
In a heterogeneous type of storage infrastructures environment where you have different types of storage devices- there is an added complexity of managing and utilizing these storage resources effectively. As storage networking technology matures, larger and complex implementations are becoming more common. Specialized technologies are required to provide an adaptable infrastructure with reduced cost of management.
Storage Virtualization resolves this problem - pooling of physical storage from multiple network storage devices into a single virtual storage device that can be managed from a central console. This helps in performing regular tasks of backup, archiving, and recovery in a quicker and more efficient way. This in turn provides enhanced productivity, better utilization and management of the storage infrastructure. There are various options available in the market for the storage virtualization by using hardware and software hybrid appliances.
Some known available Hardware appliances for storage virtualization include EMC VPLEX, HITACHI DATA SYSTEM USPV, USP VM and VSP systems, NetApp V-Series appliances, IBM Storwize V7000 etc. On the software side, we have the likes of HP Store Virtual VSA Software and EMC Invista.
I have seen environments where organizations have decided to move away from multi-vendor storage systems to a single vendor system in the desire to reduce complexity. However there may be no need to discard a multivendor storage system for it is possible to achieve the same efficiency, scalability, and flexibility with a heterogeneous storage environment.
What you need to do is -choose the right storage system that supports storage virtualization technology and make that storage system as a front end storage system and connect rest of the present multivendor storage systems in the backend. With this, the same LUNs (Logical Unit Number) get maintained even with the help of the new virtualized storage system. With this arrangement you can scale up capacity without any need to migrate data from the old storage to new storage system.
This way, you have utilized your old infrastructure with the no downtime and scalability and leveraged benefits of virtualized storage system including reduction in downtime, enhanced scalability and flexibility in managing resources with an overall reduction in the complexity of the IT environment.