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Looking Back At Issue No. 1: Where Is Storage Virtualization Headed?

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Continuing my analysis of the changes between Virtualization Review's first-ever issue from April 2008 and now, we come next to the topic of storage virtualization. This field has changed as much as any since that edition of the magazine hit newsstands.

The article, written by Drue Reeves (then an analyst with Burton Group, now chief of research at Gartner, which bought Burton Group in 2010), was called "The New Virtualization Frontier." Drue started off with a grabby lead: "If 2007 was the year of server virtualization, then 2008 may be the year storage virtualization finds its way into many data centers." He was correct that if server virtualization was the critical factor to getting virtualization into the datacenter, then virtualizing storage became the next logical step.

Not a Flash in the Pan
The article discussed the various features of current storage offerings, then defined storage virtualization, including popular options like switched-based, appliance-based and array-based. The article concluded with a look at some of the big players in the space, along with a number of up-and-comers. The first thing that struck me about this article was what was missing: no flash storage!

Of course, it didn't really exist as a category then; it's been in just the last couple of years that flash has become entrenched in datacenters. There's basically no action in the HDD market anymore, which makes sense: flash is approaching (or has attained) mechanical storage costs, so why would a business even consider it?

I didn't realize how big flash storage had grown until I went to VMworld 2014, shortly after I'd been moved back to this magazine after more than five years away, covering software development. The number of storage vendors on the show floor dwarfed pretty much everything else, and they were all talking up flash.

Software-Defined Storage
Another major movement has affected storage, which the article couldn't have foreseen: the rise of software-defined storage, or SDS. SDS makes all storage resources appear as one pool of storage, available to applications. SDS is often combined with all-flash storage in hyperconverged appliances.

The ability of these two (relatively) new technologies -- flash storage and SDS -- to make storage faster and more efficient has had a huge impact on the industry. For one thing, it may help speed the spread of virtual desktop infrastructure (although not everyone agrees.) It will certainly be critical in the increasing adoption of cloud computing, both in the private and public realms.

It took many years after this article was written to get to that point, however, giving this article a lot of relevance in the intervening time.

Posted by Keith Ward on 07/14/2015 at 8:10 AM


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