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Taming storage virtualization

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There are numerous ways to embed virtualization into your storage infrastructure. Here are the pros and cons of the various approaches.


Virtualization is showing up in all layers of the storage infrastructure. Host, network and storage system-based block virtualization can each simplify volume management, ease data migrations and decrease storage provisioning times, but all of them increase the complexity of managing a storage environment. As the storage infrastructure becomes more abstracted, organizations may no longer be able to confidently pinpoint what data resides on what storage device or how to isolate the root cause of problems.

Where to embed virtualization and when to use it depends on the size of the infrastructure, the type of apps running in it, and the levels of control and visibility required by admins.

Today, storage managers need to balance the benefits of virtualization against the complexity it brings. We'll look at seven of the largest storage virtualization providers in North America. Each vendor offers storage virtualization at one or more layers in the storage infrastructure, as well as complementary storage resource management (SRM) software that provides visibility, reporting and management across the multiple layers of the virtual storage infrastructure (see "

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Storage virtualization and SRM software, (PDF)" and "Virtualization guidelines,"next page).

There's no right answer regarding the best place to implement virtualization, or at what layer and how much to virtualize. Basically, users have a choice of three approaches to address their combined storage virtualization and SRM software needs:

  • Single vendor
  • Host based
  • Software mix

Click here for Storage virtualization and SRM software (PDF).


This was first published in January 2008

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