How server virtualization impacts storage
By Andrew Sampson, Hitachi Data Systems 24-May-2010
Organizations are enthusiastically deploying server virtualization because of the immediate benefits it provides. As a result, deployment of server virtualization has never been higher—in spite of the economy.
In fact, many organizations today have adopted “virtualize first” policies to help reduce capital (e.g., hardware, software, etc.) and operational (e.g., management) costs as well as improve underlying business processes.
But while most organizations understand the value of a virtualized server infrastructure to their businesses moving forward, many make the critical mistake of either downplaying or overlooking completely the important role storage plays in these environments and the cost-savings potential with different types of architectures.
FACT: Server virtualization puts new demands on storage environments and data protection processes.
FACT: Server virtualization creates new opportunities for organizations to improve business resilience.
FACT: Server virtualization gives organizations the flexibility they need to respond to changing business requirements.
FICTION: All storage architectures are created equally.
This article takes a high-level look at the role storage plays in a virtualized server environment, the types of features organizations should look for, some of the additive benefits of a virtualized server and storage environment, and the business continuity/disaster recovery connection.
Scaling “up” and “out”
While selecting the right storage is important during all phases of server virtualization deployment, it becomes increasingly critical as the scope of these environments widens to include more business-critical applications and the virtual machine (VM) count reaches the hundreds or thousands range.
As environments scale, previously manageable storage issues (e.g., issues related to cost and complexity) can quickly become unmanageable, and in the process, can erode important efficiencies gained on the server virtualization side.
A key concern is storage sprawl. Similar to server sprawl, storage sprawl results from organizations having to deploy net-new systems to meet application demands for more capacity and performance. In storage circles, “scale out” is being commonly used to refer to storage architectures that scale in this fashion. “Scale up,” in turn, refers to architectures that have the ability to meet the same capacity/performance requirements natively—that is, within the same physical foot print. In other words, it keeps organizations from having to build out unnecessary infrastructure (storage, network, etc.) to support the virtualized server environment.
The less infrastructure there is to buy, manage, protect and maintain, the bigger the potential cost-savings for organizations. The fewer infrastructures there are, the less floor space that’s needed, the less energy that’s needed to power and cool the environment, and, importantly, the less administration time that’s needed to manage the systems, and so on.