New wave of virtualization

Thin provisioning
Thin provisioning is a clever virtualization technique that separates the virtual representation of the LUN from the physical fulfillment. This allows the virtual LUN to overprovision virtual storage while providing the physical storage as needed. This technology reduces the high cost of physical overprovisioning or the practice of buying more capacity than is needed. Physical storage overprovisioning is common because most applications and operating system file systems can't discover additional storage in a LUN dynamically. Thin provisioning solves the application storage discovery issue while eliminating the premium for overprovisioning.

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Storage has run articles in the past questioning the value of virtualization, calling the "V" word nothing more substantial than marketing hype. Well, it's now time to jump on the virtualization bandwagon. A new generation of virtualization products, some call it the second wave, are radically reshaping storage infrastructure design.

As storage environments become increasingly complex and overwhelming, many organizations are being pushed to the breaking point by the sheer volume of data to be stored and managed, as well as by the increased number of regulations on how data is to be stored, retrieved and protected. Traditional ways of managing storage are proving to be either too expensive or inadequate for the job.

Second-wave storage virtualization products address the cost and complexity related to six significant problems, and can usually be cost justified based on their ability to solve one or more of these problems (see Virtualization saves money):

  1. Managing the volume managers of multiple homogeneous or heterogeneous servers.
  2. Ongoing storage acquisition.
  3. Provisioning multiple homogenous or heterogeneous storage arrays.
  4. Data protection for multiple homogenous or heterogeneous storage arrays.
  5. Non-disruptive or minimally disruptive data migration.
  6. Providing a flexible foundation for information lifecycle management (ILM).

The first wave of storage fabric-based, block virtualization products included those from Compaq/ Hewlett-Packard Co. (VersaStor), DataCore Software (SANsymphony), FalconStor Software (IPStor), StoreAge Ltd. (Storage Virtualization Manager) and StorageApps Inc. (SANLink). These products focused on simplifying storage infrastructures, management and replication while reducing the total cost of storage ownership; due to a number of technical and marketing missteps, however, they weren't able to provide a compelling value proposition for users.

This was first published in February 2005

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