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.

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By  Sathya Ashok Published  May 17, 2008

In worst cases, it can lead to the entire project being called off.

One of the most fundamental mistakes that enterprises make is think that virtualised storage is beneficial across all situations.

"Virtualisation in general has advantages, it makes solving storage much easier. But if a firm's storage utilisation is 60%, should they think about virtualisation right now? The answer is no, because they have 40% room. You might be able to use it when your headroom is becoming less - from 15% to 10% - because then there is a big risk that you will run out of storage soon," says Kuepers.

He adds that many companies stay away from these projects as they believe them to be either highly expensive or extremely complex. Kuepers states that storage virtualisation need not be either and that the economies will turn out to be much more profitable in the long term.

Another mistake would be to invest in untested, unproven virtualisation technologies.

"Enterprises often believe certain vendors blindly without getting appropriate local references. Each vendor does virtualisation slightly differently; some are more successful than others with their strategies," says Beck.

"The most important trap to avoid is to believe that virtualisation means a complete restructure of the storage environment. Instead, companies can take a first, risk-free step of evaluating how virtualisation technology can fit into their existing environment. Existing hardware and storage management software can and should be part of the virtualisation process. Then procedural and configuration changes will be needed, along with training. Then identify the other technologies required on host servers, including applications, agents, drivers or other forms of software," says Omar Dajani, manager of systems engineering at Symantec MENA.

"Evolution rather than revolution is a good approach. An intelligent storage controller, apart from being a virtualisation engine can also be deployed as a standard monolithic storage array. Virtualisation can then be introduced over time thereby avoiding major disruptions that would be the case with a rip and replace approach," points out CommVault's Gregory.

Even after implementation, enterprises can make mistakes with the management of the systems and the project itself.

"Since they make copies of everything in the storage network, we see a lot of duplication taking place. I would say after virtualisation it would be good to have a management platform in place and create ownership in the organisation to make sure that duplication does not take place, or even if it does take place de-duplication efforts are done fast to make sure that you are treating storage in the best way possible," says Kuepers.

Most virtualisation vendors provide their own management platforms for storage. An enterprise can also do some research and buy best of breed solutions in the area.

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