We now live in two (if not more) worlds: the real world and the virtual world. When it comes to technology, there is little distinction between the image in the mirror and that which is being mirrored. Thus much is virtualized: desktops, servers, networks, infrastructure, storage…but wait. What about storage? If I’m storing my data on a virtual storage device, is it still real?
We’re not even going to try to answer that question. So long as we can retrieve and use our data when we need it, who cares? At the same time, we need to leverage these emerging technologies to ensure we’re not wasting time and money on the old ways of doing things.
We need look no further than our own music library to see how storage has evolved. In the beginning there was tape and vinyl, then disks, and now flash. Each of these technologies are still used in businesses today, with hybrid storage arrays being a combination of all three media being the most popular and cost-effective approach for most SMBs.
Still, the data center continues to become more virtualized. Now storage systems must define how they fit in. TechTarget puts it this way: “Storage virtualization is the apparent pooling of data from multiple storage devices, even different types of storage devices, into what appears to be a single device that is managed from a central console.”
Rewards of Virtualized Storage
Like servers, a virtualized storage solution expedites the process of backup, archiving, and recovery by pooling the resources of a storage area network and presenting them to the administrator as one system. This can be accomplished with software applications, hardware appliances or, in many cases, a combination of the two. The many benefits include:
- Improved capacity utilization
- Faster backup and online recovery
- Easier data migration
- Automatic capacity expansion
- Improved database performance
- Higher availability
- Resource sharing between heterogeneous servers
The new virtual server model has created a new category of storage array: hypervisor-aware storage systems that are built to provide agile, high performance storage for virtual environments. These storage environments determine how widely a storage system can be used in a business. There are also various APIs to enable integration of the hypervisor with the storage system.
To ensure the highest performance of a virtualized storage solution, it’s important to prioritize or tier the solid state and disk drives in the array so that the most critical data is also the most accessible. Scalability is also important and is generally product-specific. Some scale vertically via added processing, memory, and disk resource. Others scale horizontally via additional nodes.
Cloud storage is also becoming a viable alternative to on-premise data backup and archival. In a software defined storage scenario, the cloud would be identified as a target destination for data of a certain designation, where retrieval times of several hours are acceptable.
As you dig deeper into the virtual world of storage, you’re likely to find a wide variety of viable approaches. Your local IBM Business Partner can help determine which way to go so that your virtual world is at least as exciting as your real one. Contact us today to get started on your journey.