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What is Storage Virtualization And How is it Effective in Business Data Management?
Most businesses these days rely on data - it's used for everything from effective inventory management to personalizing customer interactions. But the more data you have, the more difficult and time consuming it is to manage.

That's where storage virtualization comes in, making it easier to archive and access your data as well as improving resource utilization and general efficiency.

In this post, we'll cover what storage virtualization means, and exactly how it can benefit your business.

What is storage virtualization?

Storage virtualization (also known as cloud storage) is the process of pooling physical storage from multiple network storage devices so that it appears to be a single storage device. It uses a single server and is managed from a central console.

Virtualization is simply the replacement of a physical component with a virtual one, so the physical storage hardware is mirrored in a virtual volume. By integrating and consolidating storage hardware from various networks, vendors, and data centers, it makes your data easier to manage.

The pool of storage can be used by traditional architecture servers or in a virtual environment by virtual machines (VMs). Methodologies such as hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) and containerization often use virtual storage.

This type of data storage is commonly used within the banking system and can be used to merge complex sets of data and to estimate credit risk.

storage-virtualization-diagram 

Image Sourced from Storage Tutorials

How does storage virtualization work?

Storage virtualization hides the complexity of a storage system, such as a storage area network (SAN). This reduces the time and effort involved in tasks like backup, archiving and recovery. This affords you more flexibility and time to focus on other areas such as content creation and blogger outreach to increase your online presence.

The physical disks are separated from the virtual volume by a virtualization layer, allowing various operating systems and applications to access and use the storage. For example, you might have a software virtualization layer between the hardware of a storage resource and a host such as a PC, server, or any device accessing the storage.

You can also incorporate free partition software into your storage set-up which will allow you to isolate different parts of your storage into sections and treat them as separate systems.

To provide access to the data, virtualization software creates a map or uses an algorithm to locate it dynamically. Upon intercepting read and write requests from applications, it uses the map to find or save the data to the appropriate physical device. PC operating systems use a similar method when retrieving or saving application data.

You could use an IBM mainframe as a service to collect data from multiple sources and get more value out of your data visualizations.

It is worth remembering that with any data storage solution, there also needs to be a consideration for data protection for businesses, highlighting specific data protection implications when handling sensitive data.

It is also important not to continue with your old legacy software as your company continues to grow, as it will no longer be effective. You will need to consider Open Legacy cloud modernization to make sure that you have the most up-to-date software.

You can also add Boomi integration to your open legacy platform, which will give you greater access to complex legacy assets enabling more possibilities to innovate.

Storage virtualization methods

There are two basic methods of virtualizing storage: file based or block based. File level storage is applied for bulk file storage, as the cost of reserving space is lower than with block level. However, block-level storage is more versatile and flexible, accommodating any type of file system.

File-based

File-based storage virtualization is applied to network-attached storage (NAS) systems. It simplifies the management of multiple NAS devices via a single management console. By pooling NAS resources, it becomes easier to handle file migrations in the background and improve performance.

Block-based

Block storage systems operate in a similar way to the native drive software, meaning less overhead for read and write processes. This method enables virtualization software to collect the capacity from available blocks of storage space across all virtualized arrays, and pool them into a shared resource. This saves time when managing SANs.

block-level-v-file-level-storage 

Image Sourced from Tutorials Link

Types of storage virtualization

Network-based

This is the most common form of storage virtualization. It involves a network device, like smart switch or purpose-built server, connecting all storage devices in an FC or ISCSI SAN. The connected devices are presented as a single, virtual pool within their storage network.

Host-based

Typically seen in HCI systems and cloud storage, this type of virtualization sees the host present virtual drives of varying capacity to guest machines-which could be VMs in an enterprise environment, physical servers, or PCs accessing secure file sharing. Virtualization and management are done at the host level, and the physical storage can be almost any device or array.

Array-based 

Here, a storage array serves as the primary storage controller, using virtualization software to pool the storage resources of other arrays. It also presents different types of physical storage for use as storage tiers, which may comprise solid-state drives or HDDs. The physical location and specific array is hidden from the servers or users accessing the storage.

Why is storage virtualization effective for business data management?

Storage virtualization has many benefits for business data management. It makes your data easier to handle, helps you maximize storage resources, and reduces downtime. Using a partition manager for your storage virtualization will aid with backing up your data, data recovery, and data archiving.

Easier management

If your data is unorganized, or if storage systems from multiple vendors are in the virtualization pool, it makes sense to consolidate it in a single management console. This makes it much quicker to compile and locate data, or create a data report, and you'll also benefit from seamless data migration.

Increased efficiency

Storage virtualization also helps businesses to utilize their resources. For example, pooling storage capacity across multiple systems means the capacity is allocated and used more efficiently, while faster storage improves the overall system performance.

A more reliable IT infrastructure reduces planned and unplanned downtime. And since it's easy to create, store, access, and replicate data, you can accelerate data flow to the relevant departments for use in marketing or financial accounting for inventory.  

When it comes to marketing it is best to consider the industry that you work in. For example, if you work in insurance you may want to look at the best insurance marketing strategies.

std-config-v-storage-virtualization 

Image Sourced from Turbotek

Data backup

A lack of data visibility across the cloud is a risk for businesses, which storage virtualization helps to mitigate. Your disk drive, storage controller, and power supply are mirrored in the virtual array, so disruption is reduced if they fail. SANs let you take a snapshot of storage resources, so you can take backup or recovery of any data at any point in time.

For additional security when accessing your data you could use residential IP proxies which will also allow you to ignore location-based restrictions, and help with projects such as web scraping and SEO research.

Lower costs

Storage virtualization helps cut costs on things like infrastructure, hardware, and deployment. You won't have to buy as many appliances and software licenses as virtual storage doesn't require the typical hardware redundancies required for traditional enterprise storage architectures.

Scalability

Storage virtualization is also scalable-it enables you to use less storage when it's not required, or the full capacity when there's a spike. You can quickly respond to fluctuations in server loads or traffic, and add or delete storage without interrupting applications.

Final thoughts

Businesses that use storage virtualization can improve efficiency, save money, and reduce the risk of lost data. By consolidating physical hardware storage into one storage device and managing it centrally, it's a lot easier to manage the reams of data generated by modern organizations.  

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nick Shaw - Brightpearl

nick-shaw 

Nick Shaw has been Chief Revenue Officer (CRO) of Brightpearl, the number one retail-focused digital operations platform which encompasses sales and inventory management software, retail management system, accounting, logistics, CRM and more, since July 2019 and is responsible for EMEA Sales, Global Marketing and Alliances. Before joining Brightpearl, Nick was GM and Vice President of the EMEA Consumer business at Symantec and was responsible for a $500m revenue business. Nick has written for sites such as Recruitee and TIMIFY. Here is Nick Shaw's LinkedIn.

Published Friday, November 25, 2022 7:35 AM by David Marshall
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