Storage virtualization promises enormous gains in effective utilization, management efficiencies and provisioning flexibility. Our models suggest meaningful improvements in the typical metrics used to track such performance (e.g. effective utilization percentage, cost to manage and time to provision storage) leading to 50%+ reductions in total cost of ownership (TCO). That's good news and storage professionals should view virtualization as a fundamental capability of storage architectures.
While there are lots of adoption hurdles to overcome, including the 'black box' stigma attached to storage virtualization, sharing physical assets across multiple logical resources will make lives easier if done properly. Setting expectations is part of successful adoption and heterogeneity is one area where users must separate fact from fiction. The fact is that true heterogeneity is a long ways off. Today, while it is possible to virtualize heterogenous arrays under a single point of control, you must commit to a single in-controller virtualization architecture to do so. As well, users must ask what this means for existing and future storage resource management (SRM) investments and how to manage exit strategies. Unfortunately, it is unlikely that a single virtualization approach is practical from a business perspective any time soon.
Action Item: Users need to act now to begin taking advantage of storage virtualization. Like many beneficial technologies virtualization is a story of 'horses for courses' in that different virtualization strategies will best fit different workloads. Be prepared to architect multiple virtualization approaches in storage architectures (based on strategic fit), recognize lock-in strategies and plan for transitions as new approaches come on line.