Storage virtualization doesn’t exist

Posted by Staff   |   Monday, July 21st, 2008   | was launched in September 2003 and in almost five years of activity we received thousands of emails and comments.
Some of them carry on recurring questions so that at this point we can safely compile a top 3 FAQ:

  • Which processor grants the best performance for virtualization between AMD and Intel?
  • Which storage array is the best for virtualization?
  • Why doesn’t cover storage virtualization?

Let’s save the first two for better times (we are actively working to provide an unbiased answer to those questions).
It’s time to answer the third one: doesn’t cover the so called storage virtualization because at today this term doesn’t mean anything.

Unlike what happens for hardware virtualization, OS virtualization and application virtualization, the storage vendors seems unable to find an agreement on the definition.
The term is abused in almost every press announcement and it can refer to at least ten different approaches.

Depending on the vendor you are talking to, storage virtualization is the abstraction of the directories, of local volumes, of the remote volumes, of the array, etc.
So even well known concepts like RAID or distributed file systems become storage virtualization and get sold as brand new, cutting-edge technology enhancements.

For years, starting in early 2003, the worldwide press followed the marketing folks claiming the advent of storage virtualization as the new mainstream. But the reality is that the market is so incredibly confused that potential customers just distrust the technology.
How can we have confidence in something that not even the vendors recognize in a univocal way?

It’s evident that the vendors are using the term in a wild way hoping to raise the same interest that server virtualization created in the last few years.
What they are missing is that they are obtaining exactly the opposite effect.

Server virtualization (and VDI) are the best thing ever happened to the storage market in years.
Thanks to VMware, Citrix, Microsoft and all the other companies we track on the need for shared storage reached record levels so that even the SMBs have to contemplate it now.

There’s no need to use the term storage virtualization and confuse the market to sell more.

We are so glad that the independent analysis firm Burton Group has a similar opinion:

So what’s important? Forget about the term ‘storage virtualization’. Focus on function and features. Determine what you are looking for in the ultimate storage ecosystem. Do you want to provide nuts to bolts information lifecycle management? Ok then, look for storage vendors who can move data auto-magically from storage tier to tier with some content management thrown in. Or are you tired of managing volume capacities? Then get yourself into thin provisioning. Need volumes to follow around server virtual machines? Look for storage that can flit along with the VM. Need to backup and archive?  Get data deduplication. Consolidate all those disk arrays you’ve got into a common management point with a few extra features thrown in? Yes we can. Whatever – you get the idea. Call it what it is, describe the function you’re looking for and find vendors who can deliver. If the storage vendor wants to call it virtualization, then great, give him a knowing smile, pat him the back, but ask for a firm bid…

At we are ready to talk about storage virtualization, as soon as the industry stops to mislead the customers.

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