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Virtualised storage - Is planned downtime a thing of the past?

27 Mar 2014

In its early days, few people saw how pervasive virtualisation technologies would become.

In answering the IT industry’s desperate calls for new ways to do more with less, virtualisation went on to change everything, completely transforming how we architect, provision and manage our application platforms.

It’s easy to focus only on virtual server architectures when we think about how virtualisation has been applied to our business challenges. We tend to associate virtualisation exclusively with the ‘compute’ function, and nothing else.

But at NetApp, we are interested in what we can learn from server virtualisation if we apply the mantra of doing more with less to the world of the data management.

In the storage arena, infrastructure architects have three key demands; greater availability or uptime, better agility to move various workloads around their hybrid cloud, and most importantly, increased return on investment, by being able to do more with their existing hardware.

The answer to these challenges lies in the storage operating system, not necessarily in the hardware itself. New technologies are enabling virtual storage to be deployed, providing secure multi-tenant environments that run on existing physical storage hardware.

In a practical sense, this means a business could easily separate data held by its various functions, from finance to HR, in multiple secure environments, without losing the ability to easily and non- disruptively move that data around.

Or, for a cloud service provider, it means being able to store various customers’ data in different, secure environments within the same, shared hardware. This approach drives substantially more value from the investment already made in hardware.

At NetApp, we see this trend going a step further, with storage operating systems running as a Virtual Storage Appliance.

This will mean businesses can reap the benefits of the smarts behind the storage, independent of which vendor’s hardware they are running, taking us another step closer to truly Software Defined Storage.

By Matt Hurford, national systems engineering manager, NetApp ANZ