Yesterday, the Wikibon community heard from Cal State U East Bay’s Rich Avila. He, like other guests on Wikibon, including BT’s Michael Crader, have cited the benefits of combining server and storage virtualization. Yet numerous customers we speak with don’t virtualize storage arrays under VMware.
Industry data from IDC and Forrester over the past few years clearly shows EMC dominates in virtualized server environments as the backend storage platform of choice. The data ranges from 40% to close to 50% market share. Clearly these EMC arrays are not sitting behind Invista so one can only assume the capacity of these arrays is not virtualized. Folks like 3PAR of course would say that this is a missed opportunity– once you try a fully virtualized platform under VMware you’ll see the advantages and won’t go back.
As Fred Moore writes:
It’s common to go after server virtualization but ignore storage. Synchronizing storage and server virtualization creates advantages including improved storage utilization on both the server and SAN side. Having both server and storage virtualization synchronized presents the data center with an excellent opportunity to re-architect IT.
EMC says “prove it.” It claims that storage virtualization, in-and-of itself is not the issue, rather it’s the tooling, compatibility, performance testing and flexibility that are most important. The company would claim that by using virtual LUNs, wide striping and virtual provisioning you can get the flexibility you need. Combine this with EMC’s services and other advantages and the share figures aren’t that surprising.
In thinking about this and speaking with my Wikibon colleagues I’m realizing that I need to look at this issue from a different perspective. Specifically, what are the problems VMware addresses?
Answer: 1) Poor server utilization and 2) High server software license and maintenance costs.
Next question: What are the highest priority areas customers should focus on to cut costs?
Answer: 1) Virtualize to consolidate physical servers on to fewer larger boxes and 2) Put in a SAN.
I’m left realizing that storage virtualization must naturally take a back seat to server virtualization in the priority list.
However, if I ask the question: “How do I minimize storage costs? After getting rid of 50% of the storage that’s just junk, my answer is virtualize storage and thinly provision volumes. This will help streamline backups, more efficiently manage copies (e.g. allow single copies to be shared by multiple servers) and overall will help drive utilization up and costs down (including power and cooling costs).
I belive it’s a matter of when, not if.