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Vol. 10 Num. 7 September 2011

The impact of virtual storage appliances

Software-only storage controllers running in virtual machines are an easy, economical way to get shared storage. But current products aren’t up to enterprise standards . . . yet. A virtual storage appliance (VSA) is storage controller software that runs within a virtual machine (VM) turning servers into data storage systems. There are a number of them available, including Hewlett-Packard’s StorageWorks P4000 Virtual SAN Appliance Software (formerly LeftHand), which is the most widely adopted, and VMware’s recently announced vSphere Storage Appliance. The implications of VMware offering a VSA are compelling, although the immediate impact is minimal. VSA solutions are typically positioned as small- and medium-sized business (SMB) storage because of performance limitations that draw a distinct line in the sand between VSA and hardware-based storage systems. However, the line will begin to disappear as processors and memory become even faster and cheaper. And you can count on innovations that will overcome technical limitations and ...

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