The Benefits of Storage Virtualization

Storage virtualization abstracts space in physical hardware into software-defined storage that is accessible to any device that is an end-user. It lets multiple storage devices appear as a single volume, and simplifies the management of data and eliminates the need to plan long-term storage needs and to pay for additional capacity in advance.

Virtualization can take place in two ways: host-based or network based. Host-based Virtualization (typically used in HCI systems or cloud storage) relies on software to manage traffic. The host, or a hyper-converged setup comprised of multiple hosts, provides virtual drives to guest machines of any configuration – whether they are virtual machines in an enterprise, PCs accessing file servers or servers that access cloud storage for data. The host utilizes software that maps the logical addresses of each block of disk data into an offset within a physical drive.

Network-based virtualization is an alternative approach, shifting the complexity of a storage controller to an upper layer over the virtualization hardware. This often requires additional components, such as a network switch, to take on the additional I/O load. However, it is able to lower costs while increasing performance.

The layer over virtualization hardware allows for backup and recovery to take place without the virtualization impacting it. Additionally, it makes it easier to solve issues remotely – whether by internal IT teams or managed service providers which can increase resolution time. Lastly, it can help in scalability, by removing the dependencies between the location of files accessed at the file level as well as where they are physically stored on physical disks. This can be used to improve storage, consolidate servers, and carry out non-disruptive migrations of files.

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