Virtualization: What are you getting for your money? (Part 2)

Key questions to ask of vendors implementing virtualization on the server.

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Editor's Note: Following is the second in a series of tips about storage virtualization taken from a white paper by Robert Nieboer of StorageTek. This document is frequently requested by searchStorage discussion forum users.

Virtualization: What are you getting for your money? (Part 2)
By Robert Neiboer

In attempting to understand and differentiate multiple implementations of storage virtualization, we can begin by defining the things that are being virtualized - the "what" - and the place this virtualization is being implemented - the "where" or the instantiation. Since the primary purpose of storage virtualization is to enable better management of storage resources, the "what" is typically tape and/or disk.

The vast majority of recent storage virtualization architectures announced by many vendors are designed to be implemented within the context of a storage network; therefore, the "where" is either the server, the network or the storage device.

There is an opportunity within a server-centric virtualization approach to transparently exploit the multiple performance and cost characteristics of a multi-level storage hierarchy. In fact, the industry has flirted with this concept for years but it has often been rejected as too difficult and too people-intensive to implement. What if storage hierarchy virtualization was combined with policy services to mask the existence of a storage hierarchy from storage-intensive applications? This capability could also be implemented under a network-centric virtualization scheme.

Some questions to ask of vendors implementing virtualization in the server:

  • Is software required on every server participating in the storage network?
  • Does server I/O bandwidth impact virtualization effectiveness and I/O performance?
  • Is there a maximum amount of storage supported in this storage network? If so, what is it?
  • Which kinds of storage devices are supported?
  • Can they be any vendors' storage devices?
  • Which backup applications are supported?
  • Is there any kind of policy-based management capability available or planned?
  • Will this solution support serverless backup and/or migration?
  • Is this compatible or interoperable with other virtualization methods?

Additional Resources: 
* View this white paper in its entirety.

* Check out the searchStorage Featured Topic on Virtualization for more resources, news, and expert advice.

* Browse links to other virtualization resources.


About the author: Rob Nieboer is a corporate evangelist for StorageTek and is currently responsible for global industry analyst relations for the company. Rob's background includes some 34 years as an IT practitioner, with the last 17 years focused on storage. His career with StorageTek has included responsibilities for systems engineering, systems engineering management, worldwide tape and library marketing, regional marketing, and strategy.

This was first published in October 2001

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