Breaking Down the Storage Virtualization Barriers

Storage capacity is growing at a rate greater than fifty percent per year, but the ability to manage that storage lags behind. Although the hardware price per Gigabyte has plummeted, those savings are eaten up by the added management burden that results from cobbling together storage systems and devices utilizing proprietary methodologies.

“The many manual tasks and lack of centralized management across server, storage and operating system platforms adds to the complexity,” says Mike Zisman, IBM Corporation’s (White Plains, NY) vice president for corporate strategy. “This complexity results in poor IT resource utilization and problem identification and resolution is often slow, painful and costly.”

To fix these shortcomings, Zisman suggests four aspects of storage for improvement, as covered below. IBM has been researching these points, resulting in greater interoperability, a host of self-managing “autonomic” features and a new file system that virtualizes distributed devices and scales up to hundreds of servers holding billions of files.

Four Point Storage Management Upgrade

Zisman lays out the four points required in a major shift in enterprise storage management. To begin with, the storage and IT environments need to be integrated so that it is easy to add storage to meet growing requirements. Next, is operating on open standards both to integrate with existing infrastructure components as well as seamlessly incorporate new devices from a variety of vendors. The third element he lists is storage virtualization.

“Virtualization lets you reduce complexity by treating your storage and IT resources as a single common pool of resources,” explains Zisman. “This insulates users from the complexity of storage resources and exploits the benefits of storage networks.”

Improved disk utilization is one of those benefits. Currently organizations only use about 44 percent to 55 percent of available disk space according to IBM research numbers. Virtualization allows exploitation of all that potential storage rather than wasting money purchasing more in order to be sure you don’t run out of capacity.

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