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Virtualize storage

Tips on setting up virtual storage.

Virtualize storage
Rick Cook

Storage virtualization allows administrators to manage storage more efficiently by reducing underutilization. However reaping the benefits of virtualization requires paying attention to the way the enterprise uses storage.

Like virtual memory, virtual storage allows allocation of more resources than are actually on the system. In the case of storage virtualization, excess storage capacity can be swapped back and forth among applications as needed. "With virtualization you can allocate a lot more storage than you physically use," says Michael Spotts, corporate evangelist for StorageTek, a Louisville, CO, maker of storage systems. "With storage virtualization you're not using space until you're actually writing data to it and that allows you to be a lot more liberal with storage allocation."

However like virtual memory, a virtual storage system still has to have enough capacity to meet the peak demand on the system. That means that storage administrators have to pay attention to the enterprise-wide storage utilization patterns.

Typically, enterprise-storage utilization will show peaks related to business events such as closing out at the end of the month. The storage administrator has to make sure there is enough physical storage available to handle these peaks. That usually means using a monitoring tool to determine actual storage usage (as distinct from storage allocation). Most storage virtualization products come with these tools.

Additional Resources:
1. When is the right time to start with virtualization?
Everybody says that storage virtualization will solve the management complexity of SANs, but when is the right time to start with it? If your company falls within one of the three cases outlined in this user-submitted tip, then you probably should start considering storage virtualization products.

2. What does SAN expert Christopher Poelker think about virtualization products that are on the market?
Chris has some advice for this user who is trying to consolidate data in a SAN using three different operating systems.

3. Where can I get a competitive analysis of the virtualization market?
As a registered member of, you're entitled to a complimentary copy of "Storage Virtualization: bonanza or banana skin?," which is an extract of the 174-page report of the same name written by the451. Click here to read more about this insightful report or to download your copy.

4. What else do I need to know about storage virtualization?
Virtualization. Everybody's talking about it. But, if you ask 20 vendors what it means, you may get 20 different answers. Especially when it comes to where it's located. The resources in this searchStorage exclusive featured topic should help.

Rick Cook has been writing about mass storage since the days when the term meant an 80K floppy disk. The computers he learned on used ferrite cores and magnetic drums. For the last twenty years he has been a freelance writer specializing in storage and other computer issues.

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