Virtualization Isn’t Just About Servers

Virtualization is not just about servers. If you have switched to a virtualized data center environment or plan to, here are some factors and questions to consider when implementing new storage systems:

  • Most companies, whether big or small, add terabytes or petabytes to their storage system each year. Take into consideration the amount of storage needed today and by year’s end, but also how easy it is to add storage to the system. I’ve spoken to a lot of companies that have virtualized their servers, only to see the cost and time savings lost because they’re still using legacy SAN storage systems. If you virtualize 25 servers, you then have 25 separate LUNs to manage on your SAN system. (See post LUN after LUN after LUN…for more details.) A better option may be scale-out storage, which consolidates available space across nodes and offers a single point of management, no matter how many servers have been virtualized. You can add storage to the pool at any time, without disruption.
  • Definitely consider how much time you have to devote to management, and/or how many full-time employees (FTE) are available. Limited human resources mean management must remain at a minimum – again, a benefit of scale-out storage in a virtualized environment. For a real-world example, check out the significant management reduction USA.NETexperienced by using scale-out storage to support their VM environment. If you have limited in-house resources, you might also consider working with a system integrator who can walk you through what’s needed, and be on call to help you with your needs as they evolve. Even if you’re flush with administrators, freeing them from mundane storage tasks are sure to keep them happy.
  • What kind of storage intelligence will be most important to your employer? They won’t want to hear about the difficulties of LUN management, but rather how the storage systems are helping their business run better. If you’re able to get a more granular understanding of your data through apps like InsightIQ, you’ll be able to more accurately forecast needs and trends.

I hope this gives some food for thought. There is also a significant amount of information on Isilon’s SlideShare about best practices for storage in virtualized environments.

If you’ve recently virtualized servers and upgraded or replaced storage, please leave a comment and let me know if there are other considerations that should be added to this list. Thanks!

About the Author: Nick Kirsch