Virtualization and Cloud executives share their predictions for 2013. Read them in this VMblog.com series exclusive.
Contributed article by Lee Johns, VP of
Product Management, Starboard Storage Systems
2013 - The Year People Finally Get Storage Virtualization
You might be thinking that, with server virtualization so
prevalent in the market today, folks definitely "get" storage virtualization,
but, as I speak with customers and channel partners, it is clear that the
broader implications of virtualization outside of the server are not well
understood or embraced.
Virtualization in computing was developed back in the 1960s
and was the key to wider mainframe adoption. At its core, it is simply about sharing
resources. Making sure that you get the
best possible utilization out of the resources you have purchased for the
widest amount of applications.
When storage arrays came along, they were all about
virtualization. They abstracted the disk
from servers and created a shared pool.
They were virtualizing resources long before VMware came along to
virtualize mainstream servers. And yet
strangely, storage is now thought of as one of the key barriers to adoption of
server virtualization. (Those of you who
went to VMWorld in 2012 would have heard that message loud and clear). The fact is that storage visualization in a
SAN has not really met its promise.
People are deploying islands of storage and perpetuating silos. There are companies trying to make a living
by adding more storage on top of storage you already purchased, to try and
virtualize disparate storage into a single pool. They are trying to fix what is broken with
So why is 2013 the year of storage virtualization? It all comes down to the power and
performance of X86 processors and solid state drives.
X86 processors are revolutionizing storage. More than 70 percent of all enterprise
storage platforms sold are based on X-86 processors. The increasing power and performance of X86,
as it follows Moore's Law, has provided an ideal platform for next-generation
storage architectures to remove some of their old architectural constraints. Now storage is simply another X86 workload
with specialized HA and I/O capabilities, and RAID controllers are increasing
being digitized into software. In August
2011, Marc Andreessen wrote an article entitled "Why software is eating the world" for the Wall
Street Journal. The RAID controller is
being eaten and digested as you read this article. Removing the RAID controller will allow
storage operating environments to deal more closely with the way data is laid
out on disks, making disk pooling more effective and enabling new levels of
efficiency in data reduction and space optimization. It will also enable effective use of larger
drives as lengthy RAID controller-based disk rebuild times are dramatically
Solid state offers tremendous performance, but it is
expensive for capacity. If you are going
to apply it to as many applications as possible you need to be able to
VIRTUALIZE it across multiple applications.
Putting it in the server gives you high performance, but only for
dedicated applications. Putting it in
the network shares the resources across multiple applications, but creates
another management layer and the complexity of managing policy across all
applications. It will, therefore, more
broadly be utilized in storage where it can be virtualized across multiple
applications and lower management costs as well. However, in order to take best advantage,
companies will need to look more at storage consolidation, because the most
efficient way to share SSD resources is if all of applications, no matter what,
are able to leverage a single shared storage pool, which in turn leverages a
single virtualized SSD tier for performance.
This move toward hybrid storage systems to share SSD resources will also
create resurgence in Unified Storage that combines SAN and NAS, because it
enables more efficient sharing of the limited SSD resources.
Today, customers have had to force storage systems to
conform to their business processes. With new hybrid storage systems, customers
will be able to watch as their storage adapts to the unpredictable nature of
their business. Need more performance
for an application? You have it on
demand. Need more capacity for an
application? You have it on demand. At Starboard
Storage Systems, we are convinced that 2013 will be the year that
customers really see the benefits that a virtualized, hybrid storage
architecture can bring.
###About the Author
Lee Johns, VP of
Product Management, Starboard Storage Systems
Lee has more than 20
years of experience in business and product management in the technology
industry, where he has specialized in IT convergence. A native of the UK, Lee was
previously director of product marketing for Storage at Hewlett Packard (HP).
In this role, he was responsible for bringing to market the entire portfolio of
HP storage products, including HP 3PAR, LeftHand, EVA, MSA, IBRIX and StoreOnce
deduplication. Lee has also held marketing director positions in server and
software products, including Compaq ProLiant Servers, HP BladeSystem and HP
Systems Insight Manager.