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Virtualization and Common Storage Services

by Hu Yoshida on Jan 20, 2007

IDC is projecting a 60% compounded growth rate for storage capacity through this decade. This growth is complicated by the increasing diversity in the types of storage that is being offered to store different types of data and data uses. Different storage products have been developed to address, block, file, content, archive, and virtual tape libraries making it difficult to consolidate storage and manage them from a central console. An IT shop may have two types of storage for enterprise block requirements – mainframe and open, another for modular block, two different types of filers, one for distributed and one for high performance NAS, a standalone archive or content management storage system, and two VTL storage systems for mainframe and open systems.

While each of these storage systems require their own storage media and management software, they all have some common requirements:

  1. Mirroring or replication to enable business continuance
  2. Snapshots or point in time copies to enable recovery to a known point in time
  3. Different performance media for different data requirements, such as logs vs tables
  4. Ability to migrate to the next generation technology 
  5. Protection against unauthorized access
  6. No single point of failure

Instead of having to satisfy each of these common requirements in their own unique way, it makes more sense to provide them through one set of tools. That is what we are able to do with control unit virtualization. On the front end we could have block, file, content, archive, or Virtual tape applications, access the storage controller through common protocols like, FC, NFS, CIFS, iSCSI, ESCON, or FICON. On the backend, external storage can be attached through standard FC ports to the storage controller. The storage controller discovers the LUNs on the external storage and presents them through its cache just like its own LUNs.  Now all the common requirements listed above can be provided for the different applications and the different external storage in the same manner with the same storage management tools. All the external storage needs to do is provide LUNs and RAID protection. There is no longer a need to buy a niche storage system to satisfy each requirement and struggle with a host of different management tools to provide the same functions.

Storage virtualization was initially thought of as a way to create a common storage pool that could increase storage utilization. A greater benefit of storage virtualization is in the consolidation of management and storage services.

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Comments (2 )

[...] Virtualization and Common Storage Services Posted by David Marshall on Sunday, January 21, 2007 8:44 AM Hu Yoshida writes on his blog: IDC is projecting a 60% compounded growth rate for storage capacity through this decade.  [...]

Richard on 22 Jan 2007 at 3:25 am

“All the external storage needs to do is provide LUNs and RAID protection”…. I agree the rest can be done by the front-end virtualization engine.

Such ‘storage brick’ should guarantee a certain size & level of ‘random’ IO performance, which in turn could be used to predict the number of ‘bricks’ required by the front-end virtualization engine.

Also, there is a need to standardize on a simple management interface ie. LUN size, number, RAID level… etc.

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