The Benefits of Storage Virtualization

Storage virtualization abstracts the space in physical hardware to software-defined storage that can be accessed to any device that is used by the end-user. It lets multiple storage devices appear as a single volume, and improves the efficiency of managing data.

Virtualization can be achieved in one of two ways both host-based and network-based. Host-based virtualization (typically utilized in HCI systems and cloud storage) uses software to direct traffic. The host, or a hyper-converged system comprised of multiple hosts, offers virtual drives to guest machines with any configuration, whether they are virtual machines in an enterprise or PCs that connect to servers for file storage or servers that are able to access cloud storage for data. The host makes use of software to map the logical address of every block of data stored on physical disks to an offset within the larger logical drive.

Network-based virtualization uses a different approach by moving the complexity of the storage controller to a layer above the virtualization hardware. Often, this requires additional components such as a network switch to handle the additional I/O load but it can reduce costs and boost performance.

The layer over virtualization hardware permits backup and recovery to take place without the virtualization affecting it. It can also make it easier for IT teams to remotely solve problems which could speed up the resolution time. It also aids in scaling by removing the dependence between the location of files that are accessed at the file level and the location the physical location they are stored on physical disks. This can be used to maximize storage, consolidate servers and execute non-disruptive files migrations.

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