Storage virtualisation is the ability of IT managers to work with logical representation of physical storage. Using virtualisation, IT managers can see and manage data as a single logical resource, regardless of where it physically resides in the typical disparate group of storage systems and networks.
A growing number of companies of all sizes are using virtualisation technology to increase the flexibility of their IT infrastructures. By virtualising either their servers or their storage - and sometimes both - these companies are harnessing the power of the technology to achieve tangible results. Further, as the practice of virtualisation enters the mainstream, more and more organizations are quickly expanding their use this enabling technology.
The benefits of virtualisation are available to companies of all sizes. For example, the American Committee for the Weizmann Institute of Science (ACWIS) is a prime example of a smaller organization that is reaping the rewards of combining server and storage virtualisation within a single data centre. Virtualisation has broad appeal, because the technology can be applied across nearly any size and type of server or storage device.
As an example, larger RAID arrays can be virtualised as easily as modular JBOD devices. Prior to virtualising their storage, ACWIS had virtualised their servers using VMware, allowing each server to be partitioned into multiple virtual servers that run independently, even with different operating systems. This reduced the number of physical servers needed, enhanced overall resource utilization, and centralized and simplified management.
Pleased with the results of their server virtualisation project, ACWIS next focused on its storage environment. Their primary goal was to efficiently manage storage resources across a Storage Area Network (SAN), in order to improve both the control and flexibility of provisioning storage to the server environments. Like many IT shops, ACWIS uses a broad array of servers, operating systems, SAN components and storage devices from different vendors. Thus, the solution would need to simplify storage provisioning across all storage connected to the SAN, and support server environments which include VMware, Windows, and Netware. Ultimately, ACWIS selected the SAN Volume Suite (SVS), a fully integrated, network-based solution from StoreAge and Troika Networks. SAN Volume Suite is comprised of StoreAge’s Storage Virtualisation Manager deployed on Troika’s Accelera Network Storage Services Platform, a purpose-built network-based product for hosting storage management and data protection applications.
By adding SVS, they now enjoy fast and easy storage provisioning for their virtualised server environments, as well as a single point for storage management. Plus, they also have a foundation that supports advanced data protection services such as replication, mirroring and snapshot to bolster their DR and backup strategies. By virtualising both their server and storage environments, they have implemented a highly adaptive IT infrastructure, allowing network-based storage services to be deployed independent of physical storage and server resources. This provides ACWIS exceptional flexibility to select best-of breed storage and server assets that best meet their needs, and to avoid the vendor lock-in that is common when deploying proprietary solutions.