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Virtual storage 2012: VDI, VM-aware and software dominate news

The top 2012 stories about virtual storage involved solving storage problems for virtual desktops and making it easier to provision storage for VMs.

The biggest news stories of 2012 about storage for virtual environments and storage virtualization involved using storage better for virtual desktops and servers. Software, particularly for virtual appliances, was also big news, but old-fashioned storage virtualization systems have stuck around too.

Here are the major news stories and trends in this category in 2012.

1. VDI storage problems solved

At many companies, virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) technology went from the test and development phase to successful implementations this year, largely because those companies solved their VDI storage problems.

Storage vendors are offering reference architectures and benchmarks for VDI deployments using their products alongside those of computing and networking partners. Increased use of solid-state storage is also improving user acceptance of VDI.

Related stories on VDI storage:

2. Storage designed with virtual machines (VMs) in mind

Server virtualization long ago changed the server/storage relationship. Storage vendors are reacting by changing the way they design their products. In 2012, there was a proliferation of VM-aware storage, and a new category of hyperconverged storage products arrived, putting storage, compute and hypervisors in one box. And reference architectures and integrated stacks tuned for running virtual machines are becoming common.

Related stories on VM-aware storage:

3. A renewed emphasis on software

Marketing around storage virtualization has also changed, with vendors throwing around terms such as storage hypervisor and software-defined storage to imply a tie between the benefits of server virtualization and storage virtualization.

These terms cast a wide net over storage products, and some -- including DataCore's SANSymphony and IBM and Hitachi Data System storage virtualization arrays -- have been around since the turn of the century.

Related news on storage hypervisors and software-defined storage:

4. Virtual appliances go mainstream

VMware shone the light on virtual storage appliances (VSAs) in late 2011 with its vSphere Storage Appliance. VSAs were around before that, most notably with Hewlett-Packard's LeftHand platform. But VMware's SMB-centric VSA provided a push in the market heading into 2012.

Entrants into the VSA market this year include NetApp with its OnTap Edge for remote offices; a Mellanox VSA to accelerate storage performance; and data protection products from Quantum, Acronis and Arkeia. VMware also released its vSphere Data Protection virtual appliance and disclosed plans to scale up its VSA for larger organizations.

Related stories on virtual storage appliances:

5. Storage virtualization isn't dead yet

Storage virtualization has taken a back seat to server virtualization, but it still has a place in the data center.

Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) and IBM expanded the two most successful storage virtualization platforms this year. HDS brought its array-based virtualization into the midrange as a unified storage system called HUS VM. IBM shrunk its SVC-powered Storwize platform to the low end of the midrange with the Storwize 3700, and appears ready to make Storwize its flagship midrange storage platform.

Related news on storage virtualization:

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