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Steve Kovsky continues his look at virtualization technology

If you listen closely, you can almost hear the sound of belts tightening. The dreary economic forecast has IT departments across the country and around the globe looking for every imaginable way to cut corners and reduce costs without reducing services and support. It’s a tough equation – some would say impossible.

The emphasis on cutting costs is one reason why data center consolidation and virtualization are experiencing a surge of popularity.  An Intel whitepaper posted a few days ago underscores the amount of savings that can be had by using virtualization to optimize just one prominent IT cost center: storage management.

At Intel’s current run rate for racking up the terabytes, the company estimates that its storage requirements would balloon to 90 petabytes of data by 2012, a 450% increase over 2007 levels. By 2014 that could grow to encompass 165 petabytes of data. However, by virtualizing its storage area networks and network attached storage resources, combined with techniques such as fabric unification, storage tiering, thin provisioning and de-duplication, Intel experts reckon they can whittle that number down by a whopping 27 percent over the next five years.

Much like server virtualization, storage virtualization allows multiple systems to share common physical resources. In this case, it’s a single storage device. According to Intel engineers, “Virtualized storage environments make it practical to re-tier storage and migrate data among virtual storage machines with relative ease.”  The cost savings come from not only reducing the physical footprint of a company’s storage assets, but also through increased utilization and scalability, greater access to multivendor sourcing, and simplified IT management. Increased business agility can also provide a positive impact on the company’s bottom line, making the enterprise better able to respond to shifting market opportunities and customer requirements. Add to that the direct effects of reduced headcount and energy costs, and you are looking at some serious savings.

To read more on virtualization, head on over to IBM’s Server Virtualization website.

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compromised account?
By Screwballl on 12/11/2008 5:49:30 PM , Rating: 3
sounds like IBM got into someones DT account and is spamming Virtualization advertisements

RE: compromised account?
By DASQ on 12/12/2008 12:06:45 PM , Rating: 1
No it looks more like they're bending over for companies like Lenovo and IBM.

We'll see more in future adver... blog posts.

RE: compromised account?
By noxipoo on 12/12/2008 1:59:34 PM , Rating: 2
Who still has to convince people of the cost savings of Virtualization these days? That's for 2004. These things should be comparing different solutions to see which one is best for which case.

RE: compromised account?
By GaryJohnson on 12/14/2008 4:57:00 AM , Rating: 2
I read the article and I don't even know what this product is? Is it hardware? Is it software? How much does it cost? There's nothing here but fluff and buzz.

This is DailyTech, not DailyExec.

RE: compromised account?
By amanojaku on 12/14/2008 10:56:47 AM , Rating: 3
Storage virtualization is generally performed by a hardware device that connects servers to network storage arrays (we'll call them SAs) like fibre channel SANs. The servers connect to the storage virtualization appliance (we'll call it an SVA) via fibre channel HBAs and think it's the SAN, when in reality there could be more than one SA on the backend. The virtual disks presented to servers could be moved from one SA to another or resized while in use; they can also be spanned across serveral SAs with the potential for increased storage performance. Other benefits include a reduced set of SA management interfaces (which are managed by the SVA) and heterogeneous SA support.

To draw some comparisons:

1) The SVA is like an IDE or SCSI disk controller
2) The SAs (SAN, NAS, etc...) are like disks; in reality they're groups of RAID disks
3) The virtual disks are like standard blank disks waiting to be formatted
4) The storage spanning is similar to RAID
5) The heterogeneous devices are like Seagate and Western Digital drives

One thing I like to point out is my opinion that SVAs seem to be of dubious usage outside of the ability to hot migrate virtual disks from one storage unit to the next. We already have RAID for data integrity, space and performance, and LVMs for dynamic volume resizing. More importantly, most of the SVA functions exist in current SANs.

Looking at the following quote I assume Intel is deploying NetApp storage; it's the only vendor I know of that supports thin provisioning AND de-duplication. I think thin provisioning is a joke; if my administrator gives me 500GB of space I expect 500GB of space. I don't want to find out my virtual disk is on a storage array with only 300GB of space left and someone forgot to buy more drives. If you can dynamically resize volumes thin provisioning isn't all that useful and carries additional risk. On the other hand, de-duplication is VERY useful; if all 1000 of your virtual disks have the same data (say, boot.ini) you only have one copy on disk with 1000 links to it. If any one virtual disk changes its contents you get two files; the first has 999 virtual disk links and the second has one link. Space savings of 1000KB are laughable; imagine if the file size was 1GB on 20,000 desktops. That's considerable savings since operating systems like Windows are 3-4GB in size these days.

However, by virtualizing its storage area networks and network attached storage resources, combined with techniques such as fabric unification, storage tiering, thin provisioning and de-duplication, Intel experts reckon they can whittle that number down by a whopping 27 percent over the next five years.

The quote sums up my argument against SVAs. 27% sounds nice considering all the disks (and SAs) saved. The only questions are:

1) How many SVAs does Intel need (Hardware starts at $50,000 each)
2) Do the savings outstrip this cost significantly?
3) In five years what will be cheaper: SVAs or larger disks?

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