Overcoming storage woes in server virtualization: Report

In looking at the less successful server virtualization experiences of large enterprises, one analyst with IDC Corp. said storage and data network overload and storage capacity over-provisioning, among other things, are to blame.

In a new report, Richard Villars, vice-president of storage systems with the Framingham, Mass.-based research firm, said enterprises and service providers have pioneered server virtualization, but that 2011 will be a “pivotal” year for those smaller-sized businesses, yet those “efforts to consolidate and virtualize servers will fail to get underway or grind to a halt in midstream.”

Villars explains that the shift to virtualized servers “leads to significant disruptions” in several areas. Storage administration tasks also increase in number. “In large enterprises, IT teams typically responded by replacing older storage systems with new, bigger storage platforms,” wrote Villars. But that doesn’t work for everyone.  

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Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based storage virtualization vendor DataCore Software Corp. commissioned the IDC report, entitled Achieving the Full Business Value of Virtualization with a Scalable Software-Based Storage Virtualization Solution.

DataCore’s CEO, George Teixeira, said the reason that performance and availability are technical barriers to server virtualization is that IT departments are basically consolidating different workloads that used to run on separate servers.

“When you put them all together, you’ve got a lot more performance requirements,” said Teixeira. “If something fails … you can take down all of them.”

Teixeira said that although it is simpler to manage servers in one location, performance challenges are inevitably multiplied, so the setup up must be designed to handle the “worst case” performance.

Villars said that while a costly rip-and-replace approach to storage works well for large organizations, the smaller and mid-sized ones often don’t have the budget to afford enterprise-grade storage systems and must, instead, use what they already have in their IT environments.

Villars lists what he calls “smarter” storage options including device-independent storage virtualization software, virtual volumes, resource pooling and thin provisioning.

The advantage of a software-based approach to dealing with the storage problem, said Teixeira, is that being independent of the storage device means IT departments “can put any kind of storage below and run this in this kind of environment.”

Follow Kathleen Lau on Twitter: @KathleenLau

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