Server virtualisation's benefits can only be fully realised when it is used in conjunction with a complementary virtual storage layer.
There is no doubt that virtualisation is changing the face of the server world, enjoying increasing prominence in the way organisations deploy and manage their IT infrastructures. This sentiment is also echoed by the recent results of Symantec's worldwide State of the Data Centre Research report which revealed that data centre managers are implementing virtualisation and server consolidation strategies to manage the growing complexities in today's data centres.
Virtualisation today reduces the complexity and management of disparate server hardware and OS (operating systems). However, it is not only servers that are impacted; storage also has a lot to gain from virtualisation.
Like its server counterpart, storage virtualisation creates a logical layer of storage from physical storage devices. Moreover, server virtualisation's benefits can only be fully realised when it is used in conjunction with a complementary virtual storage layer.
In the case of a dynamic virtual machine failover one of the key benefits is its ability to facilitate disaster recovery (DR). Without dynamic storage failover, however, it is incomplete.
Stepping away from the more technical aspects, the business case for storage virtualisation is also compelling. CIOs and IT managers must increasingly deal with shrinking IT budgets and growing client demands while at the same time improving asset utilisation.
Storage virtualisation provides companies with tools to address the underutilisation of resources as well as the ability to respond to changing business requirements.
Indeed, according to the State of the Data Centre report 75% of companies consider storage virtualisation as a potential solution to their containment strategies which includes server virtualisation and consolidation.
At a glance storage virtualisation offers the following important benefits:
* Increased utilisation of storage resources - sometimes doubling or tripling it.
* Simplified management as multiple devices now behave as a single manageable device.
However, there are numerous secondary benefits which include improved ROI on existing information systems, reduced TCO, improved business resiliency, better storage availability; and increased flexibility.
In the real world, a number of vendors are embracing the benefits that come from storage virtualisation. For example, we are now seeing the emergence of physical to virtual (P2V) and virtual to physical (V2P) conversions of system images in backup solutions, allowing systems to be restored to virtual environments in the event of hardware failure, and then back to physical when the hardware has been repaired or replaced.
The conversions allow companies to, in the case of hardware failure, backup to a virtual environment and restore it to the repaired/new hardware without impacting the information residing on the machine in question. Additionally, complementary solutions are emerging that allow organisations to backup to both Windows server and non-Microsoft environments further enhancing companies' storage utilisation and backup and recovery efforts.
As storage virtualisation continues to mature, it will increasingly provide companies with the tools to manage their data centres, growing complexities and resultant business challenges.
Andre Hurter, manager: Symantec Availability Products at distributor Drive Control Corporation
For more information contact Andre Hurter, manager: Symantec Availability Products, Drive Control Corporation, +27 (0)11 201 8927, firstname.lastname@example.org