As we know that, there has been a strong link between the physical host and the locally installed storage devices. However, that paradigm has been changing drastically, almost local storage is no longer needed. As the technology progressing, more advanced storage devices are coming to the market that provide more functionality, and obsolete the local storage.
Storage virtualization is a major component for storage servers, in the form of functional RAID levels and controllers. Operating systems and applications with device can access the disks directly by themselves for writing. The controllers configure the local storage in RAID groups and present the storage to the operating system depending upon the configuration. However, the storage is abstracted and the controller is determining how to write the data or retrieve the requested data for the operating system.
Storage virtualization is becoming more and more important in various other forms:
File servers: The operating system writes the data to a remote location with no need to understand how to write to the physical media.
WAN Accelerators: Instead of sending multiple copies of the same data over the WAN environment, WAN accelerators will cache the data locally and present the re-requested blocks at LAN speed, while not impacting the WAN performance.
SAN and NAS: Storage is presented over the Ethernet network of the operating system. NAS presents the storage as file operations (like NFS). SAN technologies present the storage as block level storage (like Fibre Channel). SAN technologies receive the operating instructions only when if the storage was a locally attached device.
Storage Tiering: Utilizing the storage pool concept as a stepping stone, storage tiering analyze the most commonly used data and places it on the highest performing storage pool. The lowest one used data is placed on the weakest performing storage pool.
This operation is done automatically without any interruption of service to the data consumer.
Advantages of Storage Virtualization
- Data is stored in the more convenient locations away from the specific host. In the case of a host failure, the data is not compromised necessarily.
- The storage devices can perform advanced functions like replication, reduplication, and disaster recovery functionality.
- By doing abstraction of the storage level, IT operations become more flexible in how storage is provided, partitioned, and protected.