The newest addition to the storage managers platform is "storage virtualization," but just what is it and what does it mean to your storage environment? In easy terms, storage virtualization allows the administration of storage as a utility, much as we treat water or electricity. If your user or application needs more storage, it becomes a simple task to allocate additional resources from a "storage pool."
The "storage pool" today requires a SAN (storage area network) for implementation. The early SAN adopters walked through the minefields and have paved the way for more general acceptance of the technologies involved. While the initial complexity of the SAN seemed overwhelming, today's SAN has become much easier to manage, and new tools are being developed that will enable an even broader acceptance. Not to say that there are not some pitfalls that must still be overcome, such as a much more robust zoning and device masking tools, and a better more flexible reporting mechanism. While many companies are struggling to overcome the "homogeneous" environments of the past, there are more and more that recognize the fact that for true "virtualization" to take place, you must be able to recognize and control many different vendor (both storage and system) architectures. The "any to any" paradigm is on the horizon, and the software and hardware needed to implement it is available today.
About the author: Jake Williamson is a systems engineer for Vicom
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This was first published in February 2001