Storage Virtualization Business Benefits

Storage virtualization offers more than just consolidation. However, with the z10 Enterprise Class (EC) mainframe, which is capable of consolidating more than 1,000 Intel servers, consolidation of the associated storage systems can’t be ignored as a substantial benefit of virtualization, especially for large enterprise data centers.

A recent survey of more than 300 technology professionals published in InformationWeek (March 23, 2009) listed the major benefits of virtualization as reducing costs, saving space via consolidation, and increased flexibility. By consolidating servers and storage, there are fewer physical assets to track and maintain, considerably reducing the administrative overhead. The reduction in maintenance costs for storage devices and servers that are removed can be significant. Users should expect to spend much less time applying updates and patches to physical servers or doing maintenance on storage devices.

Successful storage virtualization design and deployment initiatives can drive numerous business benefits:

• Improved resource consolidation, reducing facilities costs, software license costs, physical space, and energy consumption

• Reduced storage management complexity and overall costs

• Reduced human effort to manage and maintain storage

• Improved mainframe interoperability with existing “open” storage systems

• Improved device utilization levels with storage efficiency techniques such as tiered storage, integrated virtual tape, and virtual disk using thin provisioning

• Improved overall availability of the storage network by provisioning resources as needed “on the fly”

• Improved flexibility to provide or provision storage to meet changing application requirements

• Greater scalability to meet future storage needs and allow for secure migration of existing data

• Accommodating technology upgrades and replacements with minimal disruption to operations.


When properly architected, storage virtualization provides powerful, far-reaching benefits such as the ability to allocate storage resources on demand, easier integration of multiple vendors’ storage products, the ability to specifically configure storage for high availability, and reduction of the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). The current economic downturn should accelerate virtualization efforts as “getting rid of stuff ” can slash expenses. Storage virtualization ultimately yields simplification and can significantly help the data center go green.

Choosing a storage virtualization strategy presents a challenge in the form of an over-abundance of virtualization products, resulting in considerable confusion and over-virtualization. Consider your future before you attempt to recover critical de-duplication pointers that have been compressed, encrypted, stored on virtualized Logical Units (LUNs) on a thin-provisioned RAID drive, and globally mirrored on a Wide- Area Network (WAN). Keeping the initial environments for virtualization as simple and homogeneous as possible with single vendor solutions can minimize the confusion and facilitate more orderly implementation.

The gap between management, deployment, and the amount of data to be managed continues to widen. Storage virtualization is now within the reach of everyone from mainframes to the desktop and is here to stay; it has become a compelling force in effective storage management at any level.

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