Virtualization And Storage Must Go Hand In Hand To Achieve Efficiencies

For the past few months, I’ve been heads down talking to our clients about storage refreshes. There have been some technology refreshes, primarily from some product coming up on end of life. However, for the most part, I’ve been consistently hearing the pain that I&O professionals have been suffering, which is from the storage capacity overload of server virtualization. Many today, however, are suffering even more, because not only do they have the server virtualization storage growth problems, but now it’s compounded with VDI, AND the overall private cloud initiatives many organizations have in place. Not only has their storage grown by 50% in the last 12 months, but it’s now projected to grow another 50% in the next 12 months. Before another million dollars plus investment is made, many are asking (as should you) the question: Is throwing more hardware going to really solve the problem? 

These three BIG initiatives have a significant impact on how storage architectures change. But the reality is that storage has been an afterthought for a long time, and today, there is much change that has to happen. Features such as thin provisioning, deduplication (for primary environments), and compression have all been available for some time now and must be a part of common practice and procedures for managing storage that is supporting virtualization environments.  And this is key.  Having tools and solutions in place that understand your virtualization environment are critical to the overall success of your private cloud initiative, because storage is one of the integrated foundational blocks of establishing a private cloud environment in your data center. Today, it’s difficult to manage your storage without understanding what’s happening in the network as well in your server virtualization environment.

The good thing is that there is a new breed of solutions out there today that manages and alleviates that explosive growth in storage as it relates to your virtualization and private cloud initiatives. The build-out of private cloud environments requires a new wave of innovation in order to deliver scale-out economics and simplified management of storage resources in virtualized environments. The center of gravity in the data center has shifted to the management and provisioning of virtual machines. It’s important to evaluate companies that can deliver differentiated solutions that support these trends and will help make the converged data center a reality.

Because today, this is what it’s really about, converging every component of your data center to run as smoothly and efficiently as possible.  This means ensuring you have the right solutions in place that can bring a deeper level of understanding between your server, storage and networking environments. Only when these synergies happen will you begin to achieve the value of a private cloud environment. It’s a long journey that requires much more than these synergies, but putting the right solutions in place and using them to manage the foundation of your private cloud is critical. 

Have you thought about how to manage your explosive storage growth with more comprehensive solutions that are closer to understanding your virtualization environments and overall private cloud initiatives? I’d love to hear about your experiences.    


Any interesting innovations?

Vanessa -

Great blog. Curious, are you seeing any truly stand-out innovations on the horizon in storage? The "Flash turbocharging your x86 server" offerings from the likes of FusionIO seems super useful.

Here at Cisco, particularly for VDI workloads, we want to see something that goes a step further than really fast local drives. We want something that has the economics (cost) similar to what PC hard-drives provide (SATA, SSD, etc) but has the performance and scale out of SAN and NAS. And you notice, the reliability doesn't haven't to be 5 nines (99.999% uptime). Why? Because PC desktops don't have that reliability, why do I need it when it becomes a virtual desktop. Over engineered, overpriced for VDI.

We think "innovators dilemma" is holding the storage industry back when it comes to virtualization.

High-end storage in virtualized datacenters feels like "3D workstations" & "high performance servers" back in the day with SGI, Digital (DEC), and Sun SPARC. Remember, when those guys would all laugh at Intel x86 + Windows + Linux as low-end commodity crap? That low-end stuff was only useful/applicable for consumer PCs and maybe a dept file/print server. It would never perform or deliver for real-world, business critical workloads.

Well, we know how that story eventually played out for servers & PCs... can't stop commoditization.
Seems like it's about to happen again for storage.

Any thoughts on AoE (ATA over Etherent) for SAN scale out? Any startups you think are doing really exciting work in this area?

Your thoughts...