Harnessing Storage Virtualization to Keep Up with Data Growth and Storage Sprawl

Red Queen

“Well, in our country,” said Alice, still panting a little, “you’d generally get to somewhere else – if you run very fast for a long time, as we’ve been doing.”

“A slow sort of country!” said the Queen. “Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!”

Through the Looking Glass

In my last blog post, I mentioned the recent IDC Digital Universe study, with its stunning statistics on the growth of data and the implications for storage managers. One of the most compelling of those statistics-which I didn’t have time for then-was picked up by Digital Journal: that the amount of data is doubling every year: growing faster than Moore’s Law.

Actually, what matters for storage is not Moore’s Law, but Kryder’s Law, first proposed in a 2005 Scientific American article, in which Mark Kryder, then CTO of Seagate Technologies, noted that hard disk drive (HDD) storage density had at times grown even faster than Moore’s Law. In a study four years later, Kryder predicted that by 2020 a $40 HDD would be capable of storing 14 TB of data, rather than the terabyte or so that will buy you now. Unfortunately, even so rapid a pace of growth in bytes of storage per dollar spent still leaves storage managers unable to keep up with the Red Queen. 2020 is now nine years off, and in that same period, if IDC doubling estimate is correct, one terabyte of data will become 256 terabytes (29)!

Even if you could afford to double the size of your storage infrastructure every year, you’d face the even more pressing problem of storage sprawl: how do you manage all those disk drives and storage arrays? This is the real crisis facing enterprises: the rising cost and complexity of storage management as capacity demands skyrocket. How can you get the most out of the sprawl of multiple purpose-built storage systems from one or more vendors that make up a modern enterprise storage infrastructure? How do you match storage systems and their capabilities to application demands, especially when an increasing number of critical business applications are being virtualized? How do you guarantee the higher performance and high-availability that are now “must haves” without breaking your budget?

Obviously, throwing hardware at the problem isn’t going to work. Instead of running (buying) faster, IT professionals concerned with storage management are learning to run smarter and store data more efficiently, and perhaps their most important tool for this is storage virtualization. You can find testaments to the increased storage efficiency this technology delivers on the website of any major storage vendor, and according to the latest iteration of Storage Magazine/SearchStorage.com’s yearly Storage Purchasing Intention survey, it’s catching on: 34% of respondents have already virtualized some of their storage, and another 39% intend to acquire the technology this year.

But running smarter also includes choosing the right way to virtualize your storage, and that means not tying it to specific underlying hardware-especially since that hardware is evolving so quickly! A new white paper from IDC, Achieving the Full Business Value of Virtualization with a Scalable Software-Based Virtualization Solution (sponsored by DataCore), lays out in detail the advantages of a hardware-independent approach to storage virtualization, with some interesting numbers based on IDC’s wide-ranging research into both server and storage virtualization.

The paper shows how storage virtualization software can improve utilization and productivity by combining server and storage virtualization to significantly reduce the capital and operational expenses associated with your storage infrastructure. It details how new management tools like automated storage tiering, thin provisioning, and virtual disk pooling can work across all your storage assets to help tame the problem of storage sprawl.

You can also find a lot of real-world examples of these benefits here, in case studies that highlight how storage virtualization software can get you more from your storage budget, overcome the performance and business continuity challenges that can make the adoption of server virtualization more difficult than it has to be, and, in particular, make better use of your existing storage assets.

Think of it as seven-league boots for storage managers, and leave the Red Queen in the dust.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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