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Winning storage: Turning the spotlight on storage virtualization [IBM]

Servers, Storage and Networking | Posted on May 18, 2011 by Jeff Kroth

You might say storage virtualization is the Emilio Estevez of enterprise IT. It’s at least as capable as its brother, server virtualization, a.k.a. Charlie Sheen, plus it may be easier to work with and offer more value for the money, yet server virtualization somehow manages to hog all the attention.


Well, it might finally be Emilio’s—I mean, Storage Virtualization’s time to bask in the spotlight. What’s changed? The down economy, for starters. In this healing time, any approach that can help offset capital costs is welcome news to continually budget-strapped IT departments. And more and more IT pros are asking themselves “hey, if I can get economies of scale by virtualizing my servers, why can’t I get the same savings by doing the same to my storage?”

The answer, of course, is you can.

Let’s start with an overview of storage virtualization and how it differs from server virtualization. Where server virtualization converts one physical server into multiple virtual machines to, among other things, conserve space, practice redundancy and test new applications in isolation, virtualizing storage works in a similar way, pooling physical storage from multiple network storage devices into what appears as a single storage device managed from a central console. Once in place storage virtualization solutions can help IT administrators perform backups, archiving and recovery more easily and in less time by disguising the actual complexity of the storage area network (SAN).

>> Related: the top four best practices for smarter storage management, including deduplication and progressive incremental backups

Mostly importantly, storage virtualization can have a huge impact on ROI by making storage processes much more efficient. Think of an environment where you have multiple storage subsystems, say from IBM and EMC. Typically, utilization rates on different subsystems are not consistent. By throwing a virtualization layer across your backend storage resources, you have more flexibility in how you access and use them across multiple different arrays, allowing for thin provisioning of storage on the fly, reclaiming storage and pooling resources.

For instance, you might have a request to build a new file server and need 200GB to do it. In a typical storage environment, you can only provision a finite amount of storage and you’re pretty much stuck with that amount. With storage virtualization in place, you can provision just the right amount of virtual storage on the fly and increase or decrease that amount as needed.

It all adds up to increased flexibility – and better use of the resources you have. One storage array to manage with one interface and higher utilization can mean putting off, say, a huge investment in a new $500,000 storage array.

Winning, indeed.

IBM System Storage SAN Volume Controller is one solution designed to deliver the benefits of storage virtualization in environments from large enterprises to small businesses and midmarket companies.

SVC offers:

  • Simple and more productive management: From a single access point, anywhere on the network with a web browser
  • Improved storage efficiency: Better utilization of storage capacity so you can tap into previously unused disk capacity
  • Flexibility & Scalability: Scale your systems up without disruption from the smallest configuration to the largest
  • Ease to use: With a fresh new user interface, SVC helps speed deployments and improve productivity even more

Find out more about how SVC can help make your storage environments more flexible, responsive, and efficient.

IBM Tivoli storage ebook

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