Insider's Guide- Building a Virtualized Storage Service

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  1. 1. 1 STORAGE VIRTUALIZATION: AN INSIDERS GUIDE Jon William Toigo CEO Toigo Partners International Chairman Data Management Institute Copyright 2013 by the Data Management Institute LLC. All Rights Reserved. Trademarks and tradenames for products discussed in this document are the property of their respective owners. Opinions expressed here are those of the author.
  2. 2. Copyright 2013 by The Data Management Institute LLC. All Rights Reserved. 2 STORAGE VIRTUALIZATION: AN INSIDERS GUIDE Part 6: Building a Virtualized Storage Service The dream of every rock star is to create timeless music that garners a broad audience spanning many generations of fans and evokes wild-eyed appeals for endless encores. That is the definition of star quality. Even the most modest IT administrators and planners would like for their data storage strategies to achieve a kind of timelessness. They want storage to be more manageable and predictable in terms of cost and performance and even power consumption while delivering measurable efficiency improvements in every category that matters to the business they serve. Ultimately, they want to be technology leaders who deliver improved service levels while cutting costs of operation. Storage virtualization is a technology that can enable this kind of timelessness.
  3. 3. Copyright 2013 by The Data Management Institute LLC. All Rights Reserved. 3 STORAGE VIRTUALIZATION: AN INSIDERS GUIDE Building a Virtualized Storage Service STORAGE AS A SERVICE In previous sections, we have talked about storage virtualization as a key enabler of storage as a dependable service to the organization. Storage virtualization delivers improved capacity management, performance management, data protection management -- and ultimately data management by establishing a software layer sometimes called a storage hypervisor above the hardware infrastructure itself. In so doing, storage virtualization translates complex storage hardware and plumbing into a centrally managed resource that can be allocated dynamically to business applications and processes. Implementing a storage hypervisor can have a significant impact in bending the cost curve of storage hardware infrastructure and the large cadre of staff required to administer and
  4. 4. Copyright 2013 by The Data Management Institute LLC. All Rights Reserved. 4 maintain it. This is important, especially given the capital and operating expense of storage today. Storage virtualization directly addresses the problem of storage infrastructure management inefficiency by enabling fewer administrators to manage more capacity. A storage hypervisor addresses high storage product costs by enabling value-add functions to be shared across all storage rather than being isolated to specific arrays, where they tend to increase the price tag on each product. Bottom line: the storage hypervisor makes a simple adjustment to storage infrastructure that makes it more manageable in operation and less costly to own. Just implementing a storage hypervisor helps to rectify years of inefficient storage infrastructure design when we bought storage arrays with isolated on-array functionality that created massive difficulties in coherent management and drove up operational costs and moves us a lot closer to the holy grail of an efficient and cost-effective storage infrastructure. Moreover, this strategy enables us To keep gear in service longer. To purchase less expensive gear with no sacrifice in terms of either performance or functionality: services like thin provisioning are extensible to all gear regardless of the vendor name on the front of the box. To manage and to administer more capacity with fewer folks.
  5. 5. Copyright 2013 by The Data Management Institute LLC. All Rights Reserved. 5 To map resources to applications and machines, whether virtual or physical, effortlessly and to balance workload across gear with minimal intervention. And to perform machine maintenance with no downtime at all. In addition to these important operational and financial efficiencies, it should be emphasized that adding a good storage hypervisor contributes greatly to the safety and protection of irreplaceable data assets. It simplifies storage and provides flexibility in assigning the right data protection services to the right data. It reduces the risk of outages due to value-add software failures on individual array controllers. It enables mirroring and replication without the constraint of hardware lock-ins that allow replication only between two rigs from the same vendor. Finally, using a storage hypervisor lets us protect data simply and efficiently without buying and integrating multiple hardware and software data protection products. That goes directly to the quality of service guaranty that is only possible with virtualized storage. Perhaps the greatest contribution of an enterprise class storage hypervisor to Storage as a Service is its ability to provide predictability in the face of changing technology. Three contemporary examples help to illustrate this idea: Server Virtualization Desktop Virtualization Cloud Computing Support for Server Virtualization Server virtualization, which began to take hold in enterprise computing environments around 2005, imposed new requirements on storage infrastructure that, arguably, were not foreseen by many early adopters. The ability to transition workloads between different hosts carried with it a requirement for storage volumes to migrate with applications themselves. Given the limited flexibility of hard-wired storage fabrics (sometimes called SANs) and their inability to accommodate such ad hoc data migrations, planners confronted a difficult problem. Did the adoption of server virtualization necessitate the abandonment of investments in Fibre Channel fabrics and a return to direct-attached storage? The good news is that storage virtualization has helped many companies surmount this problem. With virtualized storage, physical storage infrastructure does not need to change to accommodate changing workload locations or access patterns. A virtual volume containing the data associated with a virtual machine can move with the virtual machine while load
  6. 6. Copyright 2013 by The Data Management Institute LLC. All Rights Reserved. 6 balancing connections occur behind the scenes. Thats one way that a storage hypervisor brings flexibility in the face of changing technology. Support for Desktop Virtualization Potentially much more important to organizations than server virtualization technology is burgeoning virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) technology. Virtualization of desktops, contrary to its popular interpretation, is not simply about replacing or reducing the cost of physical PCs and workstations. The physical client device will likely remain in place (with less costly devices such as terminals and mobile devices such as tablets and smart phones added where needed). The real benefit of VDI is the centralized hosting and management of desktop software. The challenge, from a storage perspective, has been how to provision storage resources to meet such a dynamic and unpredictable workload. Hardware array providers have performed tests and measurements and concluded that buying brand X array would support thousands of desktops for a much lower price than current desktop equipment. However, this is of little help to IT managers who seek to deploy VDI in stages supporting only a few hundred desktops at a time. Ideally, planners want predictable cost and performance metrics for VDI so that it can be deployed incrementally. Using a storage hypervisor, as DataCore Software demonstrated in 2011 in a groundbreaking research and development project, could deliver just such a practical and predictable roll-out model.
  7. 7. Copyright 2013 by The Data Management Institute LLC. All Rights Reserved. 7 Readers here can find DataCores studies on their website. Simplified and condensed, DataCore offers a hub-and-spoke model called a STAR configuration, that can be used to build out virtualized storage infrastructure in atomic units delivering predictable capacity, performance and cost. While focused on VDI, DataCores findings could be applied to the design and implementation of most multi-user application workloads. This is another way that storage virtualization provides predictability a key strategic infrastructure planning value adding to an already compelling business and technology value case. Support for Clouds Taken individually, server and desktop virtualization may be strategic IT initiatives in many companies. And, as previously stated, a storage hypervisor can support these strategies by delivering manageable, flexible and predictable storage resources that can adapt to changing workload requirements. For many planners, a storage hypervisor is already an essential component of a software stack that will lead to a virtual data center, or cloud. The bad news is there is competition within the server and desktop virtualization market among vendors whose products take decidedly different approaches to their task. For example,
  8. 8. Copyright 2013 by The Data Management Institute LLC. All Rights Reserved. 8 in the server virtualization space VMware competes with Microsoft Hyper-V and Citrix XenServer for market share. Competition, while a good thing generally, can (and has) created more complexity and challenge for those seeking to build private clouds or to leverage public cloud services that leverage different server or desktop virtualization software stacks. For those firms using multiple server virtualization products (as well as some non-virtualized servers), the issue has begun to take on nightmarish proportions as vendor after vendor seeks to add a proprietary storage hypervisor to its server hypervisor stack. Doing so requires planners to permanently assig