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The Benefits of Storage Virtualization


Storage virtualization abstracts the space in physical hardware into software-defined storage, which is accessible to any device with an end-user interface. It lets multiple storage devices appear as a single volume and improves the management of data without the need to plan the storage needs of the future and paying for additional capacity in advance.

Virtualization can be accomplished in two ways: host-based and network based. Host-based Virtualization (typically used in HCI systems or cloud storage) relies on software to control traffic. In essence, the host, or a hyper-converged setup comprised of several hosts, displays virtual drives to guest devices in any configuration, whether they are virtual machines within an enterprise or PCs connecting to servers for file storage or servers that are able to access data via the cloud. The host utilizes software to convert the logical address of every block of data on physical disks into an offset within a larger logical drive.

Network-based virtualization uses a different method, shifting the complexity of a storage controller onto a layer above the virtualization hardware. This is often requiring additional components, like an Ethernet switch to handle the increased I/O load. However, it is able to reduce costs while improving performance.

The layer that is above the virtualization hardware also provides the ability to perform backup and recovery functions without being affected by the virtualization. Additionally, it makes it easier to troubleshoot issues remotely – either by internal IT teams or managed service providers which can improve resolution speed. It also assists with scaling by removing the dependence between the location of the files accessed at the file level, and the location where they are stored on physical disks. This can help with optimizing storage use and server consolidation as well as conducting non-disruptive migrations of files.

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