The Promise Of Storage Virtualization
Two software vendors believe the benefits of storage virtualization are here and that VARs should take note.
The promise of storage virtualization is pretty straight-forward: allow users, regardless of platform, hardware, or software, to connect and manage storage resources independently from application servers. "When we look at storage virtualization and the critical point of pain that we resolve for our clients, it really has to do with eliminating business disruptions," said Ken Horner, VP of marketing for Fort Lauderdale, FL-based DataCore Software. "It's all about allowing customers to flexibly and cost effectively manage their storage resources."
Storage virtualization is still a fairly new technology, with most products having been on the market for less than a year. "I think our company, as well as the industry, has struggled with what virtualization really is and being able to distinguish what we mean by it," said Horner. "The most common scenario we see in the market right now is companies that talk about what they are going to be doing in virtualization, but that are not yet shipping products. Therefore, it's tough to determine what exactly they mean when they say virtualization."
Remaining Hardware And Software Agnostic
From a VAR perspective, Horner believes that virtualization should not be dependent upon any specific hardware platforms, software platforms, or connectivity. This allows resellers to sell what they are most comfortable selling. "You should be able to do business as you have always done it," he said. "Virtualization should not rely on any specific equipment. It should work on whatever kind of switch you sell today, be it Brocade, McData, or Gadzoox. It should work on whatever kind of HBA (host bus adapter) you sell and whatever kind of storage that you offer. Virtualization should not get you locked into any storage hardware. True storage virtualization, the way that we see it, empowers resellers to gain additional account control and sell what is most beneficial to their business."
Scott McIntyre, VP of product marketing and management for Palo Alto, CA-based Legato Systems, also hears a buzz around the industry regarding storage virtualization. But while many companies are concentrating on virtualization involving online storage, McIntyre stresses that VARs should not forget about the tape storage side of the market. "The other side of storage virtualization is the secondary storage side, which primarily revolves around tape and tape library technologies," he said.
End users feel a great deal of pain around data protection, backup, and recovery. That pain has been driving many of them to implement storage networks. But McIntyre believes these customers also need a way to virtualize the tape side of storage to be able to share their data between multiple systems. Virtualization in tape involves creating one giant tape storage pool that is sharable between multiple systems. Over time, storage can be moved, added, or subtracted. Customers can get the same benefits they would on the disk side.
What Are The Opportunities?
McIntyre believes virtualization gives VARs the opportunity to go to end users, who today have multiple backup systems, and help them to consolidate that storage. This gives customers the opportunity to consolidate storage on large, value-added systems having tape libraries able to handle multiple terabytes of data. "Virtualization will allow the customer to leverage these resources they invested in. From the customer's point of view, the great win here is being able to consolidate everything and be able to get maximum use out of those expensive resources they just purchased. VARs have the opportunity to go in and provide value-added services around these systems because this is a fairly complex environment that customers are getting into."
The good news for VARs is that the vertical market opportunities continue to go across the board. The best opportunities should continue to be with companies having the most data and growth in storage capacity. Right now that would be the big financial houses, the telcos, large manufacturing firms, and pharmaceuticals. Basically the companies that continue to generate hundreds of gigabytes of data per day.Questions about this article? E-mail the author at EdM@corrypub.com.