The Benefits of Storage Virtualization

Storage virtualization abstracts the space available in physical hardware into software-defined storage that can be accessed from any device with an end-user interface. It lets multiple storage devices be viewed as one volume, and helps streamline data management.

Virtualization can take place in two ways: host-based or network-based. Host-based virtualization (typically used in HCI systems and cloud storage) uses software to direct traffic. The host or hyper-converged systems, which are comprised of multiple hosts, provide virtual drives to guest computers of any configuration, whether they are virtual machines in corporate environments, PCs which connect to servers for file storage, and servers that use cloud storage to store data. The host utilizes software that converts the logical addresses of each block of physical disk data into an offset within a physical drive.

Network-based virtualization is an alternative approach by shifting the complexity of the storage controller to an upper layer of the virtualization hardware. This usually requires additional components, such as an Ethernet switch to take on the additional I/O load. However, it can reduce costs while increasing performance.

The layer over virtualization hardware allows for backup and recovery to take place without the virtualization effecting it. It helps IT teams to solve issues remotely which could accelerate the resolution time. Additionally, it can assist with scalability by eliminating dependencies between the location of files used at the file level and the location they are physically stored on physical disks. This could be used to optimize storage, consolidate servers, and also to perform non-disruptive data migrations.