Storage Virtualization Grows in Popularity, Survey Finds
Storage virtualization has entered the mainstream of operations for many large companies and will expand greatly within the next 12 months, says a new white paper by IDC analysts.
IDC's survey found 19 percent of firms with more than 10,000 employees have already deployed storage virtualization, with another 30 percent planning it in the coming year. About one-third of companies with 1,000 to 10,000 employees plan to deploy storage virtualization in the coming year.
"With increased availability of mature and proven products, IT managers are taking advantage of virtualization in networked storage environments to optimize their utilization of storage assets, deliver higher levels of application availability, and dramatically reduce storage administration time and cost," write authors Laura Dubois, research director, Storage Software, and Richard Villars, vice president, Storage Systems.
Benefits Becoming Clearer
Storage virtualization is on the rise because companies are seeing immediate and potential long-term benefits, the IDC analysts said. The more immediate benefits are discussed below.
Improved use of current storage assets and controlled growth in the deployment of new disk capacity. In the past, the white paper asserts, companies "overprescribed and underutilized" storage capacity because of the administrative costs attached to changing configurations. Storage virtualization allows IT managers to nondisruptively modify or add capacity to applications. IT managers can also reduce capacity for applications that are not growing or are being gradually retired. That allows IT managers to reuse existing capacity and slow the demand for new storage hardware.
Increased application availability and performance. Adding storage capacity for growing applications that are otherwise underprescribed causes serious disruption to service and chews up planned downtime. Without storage virtualization, migrations from older to newer systems, whether to boost capacity or boost performance, are time-consuming and very disruptive to application and IT management work. Storage virtualization provides nondisruptive online migration that eliminates downtime and reduces an IT manager's need to get too wrapped up in data or server migrations.
Reduced current and future costs for managing expanded storage capacity. Utilization improvements aside, the rapid growth in data-intensive applications such as digital images and email archives is fueling growth in storage capacity requirements. Storage virtualization greatly shortens and simplifies the storage reconfiguration processes needed to support server migrations and consolidations. It also makes data migrations driven by storage technology refreshes faster, more automated and less staff intensive.
"Storage virtualization is a foundation upon which companies can also deploy higher-level storage services," the IDC analysts said, including:
Cross-system, heterogeneous data replication, migration and protection that further enhances overall business continuity and storage asset use without disrupting applications and business processes; Common sets of provisioning, management and replication practices lowering costs for storage assets by decreasing the number of tools and people required to manage assets in any environment; and Transparent, policy-based migration of data between different tiers of storage, allowing for the correct placement of data based on its value over time and the retrieval requirements of that content to the business.
According to IDC's survey of IT professionals at more than 55 companies, vendors hoping to make a dent in this market must offer products that scale nondisruptively in capacity and configuration, support heterogeneous storage platforms, and support data management services including replication and data migration.
About half of the respondents said scalability was the most important feature, followed by reliability among very large firms and heterogeneous volume management among large firms.