Taking a fresh look at storage virtualization and its players, Part 2

How to achieve storage virtualization in a SAN and how it is beneficial over a traditional SAN?

Part 2.

Click here for Part 1.

The software only approach also works fine. Look at how Veritas has sold VxFS on Solaris for a good indication of how good software can help you./p> The fabric method is just now coming into vogue. You place a smart switch in the fabric, tear apart all the Fibre Channel frames, and add functionality like smart provisioning, fabric based replication, or other cool things. The smart file system method allows you to pass storage metadata over an IP network, and access all data in-band through the storage fabric.

Which method you choose depends on what you are trying to do. I know of a very large client who is using the in-band virtualization method, across all protocols, and it is saving them millions in personnel, time, backup, and provisioning costs.

Data Lifecycle Management is driving the need for an intelligent storage file system that is data aware and dynamically provision storage resources depending on data type, availability requirements, archive requirements, retention period and aging. Most data gets used very often when it is young. When it ages, it gets accessed less and less until it is no longer accessed.

The data may still be needed for things like data warehousing or data mining but may even be deleted after a time. The storage file system would need to store metadata about the data it houses thus giving storage applications the ability to query the data on what it is, how it's used and how long it needs to stay around. This would require the storage file system to know about applications like Oracle, Peoplesoft, SAP, DB2, SQL server, etc., so it can look into those applications to query the data's metadata.

Ok, I'm rambling and going down my own rat hole. Storage virtualization is an interesting subject and one that requires thought. There are a lot of folks much smarter than me dreaming all this stuff up and if you have the capability to wait a while, I'm sure you will be impressed by what the storage industry ultimately comes up with.


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This was last published in August 2003

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