Storage hypervisor tutorial: Understanding the technology

Storage hypervisor tutorial

Learn how software deemed a 'storage hypervisor' is making its way into today's software-defined market.

The term storage hypervisor is still new, but its function isn't. This storage hypervisor tutorial will explain how they aggregate unused capacity. At a basic level, it does to storage what server hypervisors do to servers -- it makes the most of physical hardware. In the case of a storage hypervisor, it aggregates unused capacity from different physical storage devices into one pool. It can run on dedicated storage, in a virtual machine or inside a server hypervisor. When used with server virtualization, a storage hypervisor provides better storage performance. But products deemed storage hypervisors aren't always the same, and some vendors' offerings may be more effective than others. In this hypervisor tutorial you will learn about the technology's origin, how it's being defined today and get a look at current storage hypervisor products on the market.

Table of contents:

Is the storage hypervisor the future of storage?

Vendors claiming to sell storage hypervisor products run the gamut, from Hitachi Data Systems to Virsto Software, which was recently acquired by VMware Inc. The term has also been lumped with the greater concept of software-defined data storage. However, according to DataCore Software Corp. CEO George Teixeira, for something to be a storage hypervisor it must be based on software and make more efficient use of existing storage. This article provides more information about the functions of the storage hypervisor as well as predictions about its future popularity.

Related links
Where is hardware's place in a software-defined world?
Software-defined data center: How it fits in the virtualization world
The reality of software-defined-storage

Virtualization extends past servers with storage hypervisors

Storage hypervisors aren't a new idea. In this article, virtualization expert David Davis explains that even with server virtualization, a basic version of storage virtualization is being used because all virtual machines (VMs) store at least one virtual disk file and a configuration file, meaning the VM storage is already virtualized. However, a storage hypervisor goes above and beyond that by managing all different types of infrastructures. Some even offer additional features such as backup and data protection.

Related links
Understanding the network and storage hypervisors

Vendors use different methods to market storage hypervisors

While server hypervisors aim to take one piece of hardware and make it appear as many pieces, storage hypervisors do the opposite by pooling unused capacity from multiple physical devices into one virtual data store. But some storage hypervisors are better at this than others. In the podcast link above, "Vendors use different methods to market storage hypervisors," storage expert Mark Peters says the better products are those that can be used with any kind of storage and with more than one type at once. And while these products improve manageability, flexibility and quality of service, according to Peters, the real driving force behind storage hypervisor adoption is reduced storage costs.

Related links
What software-defined storage technology delivers to value-added resellers
How software-defined storage works with SSDs

VMware acquires Virsto to continue software-defined data center strategy

In early 2013, VMware Inc. acquired VM storage management software company Virsto Software Corp. VMware looked to Virsto's storage hypervisor to expand its software-defined data center vision. The Virsto storage hypervisor software runs on a physical host and intercepts I/O to make reads and writes sequential, resulting in improved storage efficiency. This article examines Virsto's hypervisor and includes insight from analysts about what the acquisition means for software-defined data centers and storage.

Related links
Storage hypervisor aims to improve VMware's storage performance
Virsto hypervisor digs deeper into VM management
VMware acquires Virsto storage hypervisor with Microsoft in mind
VMware shops skeptical of Virsto software ROI
City's VM management and performance improved with Virsto storage hypervisor

Learn more about storage hypervisors from these links

Storage hypervisors enhance cloud storage with speed and reliability

The negative aspects of software-defined data centers

DataCore upgrades storage hypervisor product

Storage hypervisor virtualization goes beyond the server

Storage hypervisor use case: German manufacturer boosts efficiency