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Virtualization breathes new life into old arrays, but at a cost

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She also warned users to read the vendor's supported hardware list carefully. All vendors have their own list of supported old storage that will work behind their virtualization product. "Make sure your storage array is on that list," she stressed. QBE Regional Insurance tried using IBM's request for price quotation process to get some older switches supported on the SVC, but "it didn't pan out," she says. In other words, if your switches and host bus adapters are as old as the storage arrays, they may need to be upgraded as well, which adds to the cost.

Nevertheless, QBE Regional Insurance ended up saving money because it was able to hold off on plans to hire another storage administrator. IBM SVC made QBE Regional Insurance's upgrades to newer storage easier because the process is now hidden from the server and users. The firm moved older storage to lower tiers for archiving, backups, testing and development, extending the life of these systems. Changing drive layouts and RAID configurations became easier, as data can be moved around without affecting the app. SVC also enables common functionality across all storage arrays, allowing all storage clients to be consistently configured regardless of the age of the actual storage behind the scenes.

But plenty of users are happy to upgrade to new equipment and thus save on the maintenance costs. David Ping, data center storage team lead for information systems and technology services at San Francisco-based Pacific

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Gas and Electric (PG&E) Co., is managing approximately 2.5 petabytes (PB) of storage data, most of it residing on IBM DS8300s, with about 25% on HDS Universal Storage Platform and Adaptable Modular Storage Model AMS1000 arrays.

"At this time, PG&E has not implemented any virtualization across its storage arrays because it costs less to maintain newer equipment," maintains Ping.

--Jo Maitland

This was first published in September 2007

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