Gearing up for storage virtualisation

Gearing up for storage virtualisation

Advancements in server virtualisation have opened the path for users to look at their storage environment. Effective management, high availability, data retention laws and environmental impact are just some of the factors driving the latest storage virtualisation movement.

Retaining and effectively managing crucial digital-based data has become the bane of many a company. In fact, with data retention laws stamped into the IT frame and forcing businesses to retain records for up to seven years, the situation is inviting frustration. And if certain information is required about the business, it must be presented on-demand. As a result, having a reliable and readily available storage system has become a major component of an organisation’s IT make-up.

While the concept of storage virtualisation has been in the market for some time, it has expanded over the past three years as ongoing challenges around data growth increase. IDC estimates overall demand for storage capacity is growing at a rate of 60 per cent yearly, largely due to growth in video technology and data retention regulations.

As a result, organisations are picking up the virtualisation pace as they begin to recognise, not only the benefits of a virtual environment, but also the potential cost savings and to a degree, their environmental corporate responsibility.

It isn’t as black and white as selling a box-type solution; the channel has to get into the services game if they want their customers to reap the real benefits of storage virtualisation, according to IDC Asia-Pacific storage research program director, Simon Piff. But knowing exactly what type of storage virtualisation the customer needs, and what type of data they should and shouldn’t virtualise, is a bridge that needs to be crossed in order for them to recognise they have invested in the right type of technology.

“If you can’t immediately identify the economic value, then it’s not the right thing to do,” Piff said. “Also, where in the lifecycle of the organisation does virtualisation need to be? And is it right for the type of data you’re looking at, because not everything needs to be virtualised.”

Doing more with less

In the existing business climate, enterprise organisations will consider technologies that can save financial, hardware, real estate, human or environmental resources. This is prompting technological developments that enhance storage utilisation including thin provisioning and data de-duplication, according to Gartner’s 2008 Hype Cycle.

To deal with data growth, Sun Microsystems storage product manager, Steve Stavridis, said some customers had been opting for lower cost, larger capacity disk drives in their storage systems, and deploying more storage systems in their datacentre.

“Obviously, buying more will deal with data growth, but the reality is that it also introduces issues around high costs of management and low levels of resource utilisation,” Stavridis said. “Storage virtualisation is one area which we can use to dramatically improve the situation, but it’s not the solution by itself. It will help by removing or using less hardware than we actually need and may include multiple savings in terms of floor space, power and cooling requirements.

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