Minding the store

Enterprises in the Middle East have several choices of vendors, solutions and architectures for storage virtualisation projects. However, the success of such projects may eventually depend on the organisation itself.

  • E-Mail
By  Sathya Ashok Published  May 17, 2008

Enterprises in the Middle East have several choices of vendors, solutions and architectures for storage virtualisation projects. However, the success of such projects may eventually depend on the organisation itself.

Storage virtualisation is often the next step for an enterprise that has invested in server virtualisation, or it is a project that happens in parallel with server virtualisation.

Either way, storage is on the agenda of any enterprise that considers virtualisaion as the way ahead. This is because it comes with certain obvious benefits.

The most important prerequisite is to understand what business problems will be solved through storage virtualisation.

"Investing in storage virtualisation and a tiered storage infrastructure allows enterprises to manage storage assets centrally, and much more efficiently. Storage virtualisation would enable enterprises to use a single platform to consolidate and simplify storage infrastructures, combining previously separate storage silos and optimising storage capacity management and planning. This has the potential to lower storage-related operating costs for most organisations by 15% or more over a three-year period, when compared to a single-tiered architecture," points out Tony Ward, general manager and sales director for Middle East, North Africa, Turkey and Pakistan at Hitachi Data Systems.

Storage virtualisation though is not a single, static concept; it comes in multiple flavours.

According to Robin Kuepers manager of the storage centre of competence at Dell EMEA: "There are four distinct flavours to storage virtualisation. The first is heterogeneous storage virtualisation, then there is RAID-based and RISC-based storage virtualisation. Finally you have storage in virtualised servers which actually has nothing to do with storage virtualisation but basically involves enterprises having virtualised servers that have storage included in them. Looking at the industry and where we are right now, RAID based storage virtualisation is the most interesting model for most customers and it is the one which is growing the fastest."

"Customers have a huge choice of deployment architectures for virtualisation and the decision is typically based on the perceived benefits from each virtualisation vendor," says Simon Gregory, business development manager for EMEA at CommVault.

In essence though, storage virtualisation denotes bringing together existing storage assets and networking them. This can be based upon dedicated fibre channel, iSCSI SANs or IP based NAS.

And whatever the flavour chosen, storage virtualisation will almost always bring along changes in existing infrastructure for an enterprise.

"To bring the disparate disk arrays together by virtualising them, enterprises must be prepared for a SAN reconfiguration exercise to bring in the new virtualisation controller as a layer in front of all disk arrays," says David Beck, storage group manager, MENA at Sun Microsystems.

"There are basically two ways a storage virtualisation decision is going to affect infrastructure. You can either rip out and replace, at a cost of millions of dollars or you can make better use of what you have, adding infrastructure where appropriate. The most cost effective decision that truly embraces the concept of virtualisation would probably be one that incorporates a tiered approach to storage - by this I mean using cheaper, tier three storage such as tape for rarely accessed, non-critical data, while keeping the more vital data on tier one (for instance fibre channel). The "virtual" part of this approach involves decoupling the physical link between data and users - introducing a layer of abstraction that, to the user, means what tier data is stored on is not something they ever see or affects them," clarifies Paul Sherry, regional director for MEA at F5 Networks.

Add a Comment

Your display name This field is mandatory

Your e-mail address This field is mandatory (Your e-mail address won't be published)

Security code