Virtualisation? Sounds a bit fancy

Simply put, virtualisation is the pooling of data from multiple devices into what appears to be a single device, managed from a central console. Virtual storage appears as one device to an operating system, regardless of the types of storage devices pooled.

Sounds complicated. How does it work in practice? Gimme some tech please

The technology can be placed on different levels of a storage network. Users can implement virtualisation with software, as a hardware-software hybrid appliance that sits somewhere in the fabric and redirects all the input/output traffic to the appropriate device, or within the storage array itself. Make sense now?

I guess so. But what about those much talked about SANs and NASes – have they vanished overnight?

No, no, you’ve got it all wrong. They are both here to stay. You see SANs and NASes both in fact work better with virtualisation capabilities. Users’ll be utilising their storage networks better and making the most of the hardware you spent all that hard earned cash for.

I am convinced now. But are there any vendors involved?

Plenty. All the usual suspects – HDS, HP, IBM, StorageTek (who claims it invented the technology), Sun and Veritas. Strangely, storage giant EMC has mostly been quiet about its virtualisation strategy claiming it doesn’t want to join the hype mill. We can hardly contain our excitement…

What about standards? Not going to buy this stuff if it isn’t officially approved

Ooh – yes there are some. The Storage Networking Industry Association – SNIA, for those in the know – is working on defining virtualisation. However, despite its best intentions to bring respect to virtualisation, it will take some time, even though “the horse has already left the barn,” according to Wayne Rickard, Chairman, SNIA Technical Council.

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