Thursday, 26 January 2012

Prediction #6: Storage Hypervisors will make storage virtualization and Cloud storage practical.

Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) recently authored a Market Report that I believe addresses the industry focus for the year ahead. In "The Relevance and Value of a ‘Storage Hypervisor'," it states "...buying and deploying servers is a pretty easy process, while buying and deploying storage is not. It's a mismatch of virtual capabilities on the server side and primarily physical capabilities on the storage side. Storage can be a ball and chain keeping IT shops in the 20th century instead of accommodating the 21rst century."

While enterprises strive to get all they can from their hardware investments in servers, desktops and storage devices, a major problem persists - a data storage bottleneck. Ironically, even as vendors promote and sell software-based, end-to-end virtualization and Cloud solutions, too often the reaction to handling storage is to throw another costly hunk of hardware at the problem in the form of a new storage array or device.

The time has come to resolve the storage crisis, to remove the last bastion of hardware dependency and to allow the final piece of the virtualization puzzle to fall into place. Server hypervisors like VMware and Hyper-V have gone beyond the basics of creating virtual machines and have created an entire platform and management layer to make virtualization practical for servers, desktops and Clouds.

Likewise, it's time to become familiar with a component quickly gaining traction and proving itself in the field: the storage hypervisor.

A storage hypervisor is unique in its ability to provide an architecture that manages, optimizes and spans all the different price-points and performance levels of storage. Only a storage hypervisor enables full hardware interchangeability. It provides important, advanced features such as automated tiering, which relocates disk blocks of data among pools of different storage devices (even into the Cloud) - thereby keeping demanding workloads operating cost-efficiently and at peak speeds. In this way, applications requiring speed and business-critical data protection can get what they need, while less critical, infrequently accessed data blocks gravitate towards lower-cost disks or are transparently pushed to the Cloud for "pay as you go" storage.

I think ESG's Market Report stated it well:

"The concept of a storage hypervisor is not just semantics. It is not just another way to market something that already exists or to ride the wave of a currently trendy IT term...Organizations have now experienced a good taste of the benefits of server virtualization with its hypervisor-based architecture and, in many cases, the results have been truly impressive: dramatic savings in both CAPEX and OPEX, vastly improved flexibility and mobility, faster provisioning of resources and ultimately of services delivered to the business, and advances in data protection.

"The storage hypervisor is a natural next step and it can provide a similar leap forward."

DataCore announced the world's first storage hypervisor in 2011. We built it with feedback gained in the real world over the last decade from thousands of customers. We saw this advance as a natural, but necessary, step forward for an industry that has been fixated on storage hardware solutions for far too long. 2012 will be the year that true hardware interchangeability and auto-tiering will move from "wish list" to "to do list" for many companies ready to break the grip by which storage hardware vendors have long held them.

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