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Bundling storage and server virtualization services

Selling server virtualization technology or services without complementary data storage services is like selling chicken noodle soup devoid of chicken and noodles. Find out why and how to bundle server and storage virtualization services.

Virtualization, a method for using software and hardware to make many separate storage devices appear as a single virtual device, is increasing in popularity across the enterprise for the purposes of server consolidation, as well as server flexibility and agility. This virtualization boom is making many integrators change their product mixes and strategies for addressing customer problems, partly because of the varying goals of companies even considering server virtualization.

Server and storage virtualization soup

Server virtualization solutions, like those from VMware, may be the broth that forms the base of your virtualization soup -- but it tastes much better with a few extra ingredients. Server virtualization's top-selling points, such as simplified management, server consolidation and portability, can also be applied to data storage.

Selling VMware products devoid of complementary storage technology and services is like selling chicken broth, not chicken noodle soup. It's more satisfying once the noodles are added. To sell a better virtualization soup, consider adding these ingredients to your recipe:

  • iSCSI-based storage from vendors including Rocket Division, , SANRAD or the open source OpenFiler.
  • Software-based storage virtualization products, such as those by FalconStor and DataCore.
  • Data protection products from vendors including Vizioncore, Double-Take, and EVault, targeted at the SMB market.
  • Performance optimization add-ons offered by InovaWave and Invirtus.
  • iSCSI storage offers a cost-effective way to consolidate and streamline storage access. Software-based storage virtualization can be installed on repurposed hardware as part of a virtualization consolidation effort, and used to provide access transparency to storage resources, data protection, and iSCSI targets. Data protection of virtualized resources is a major concern and several vendors offer mature products with proven track records in virtualization backup.

    Also look at packaged performance optimization products that can increase consolidation ratios and improve storage performance.

    - Chris Wolf, Contributor

    But systems integrators must remember that it's a more complicated process than selling a hardware server. Convincing customers that virtualized hardware has real benefits may take a lot of time and effort -- and most successful virtualization projects involve penetrating every system.

    With that in mind, we've collected some expert advice on combining both server and storage virtualization.

    Greg Schulz, Backup and Data Protection Expert
    According to Storage IO Group founder Greg Schulz, "We are now seeing the convergence of servers and storage, which is only appropriate given discussion of virtual servers and virtual storage. While storage virtualization services continue to be deployed on servers and storage subsystems, they are also being deployed in the network on appliances, switches and gateways."

    However, Schulz goes on to say in a book excerpt from Storage Virtualization: Technologies for Simplifying Data Storage and Management that "barriers to fully leveraging virtual servers, virtual storage and virtual networks may not be technology, but rather political and budget boundaries, as well as 'turf' wars within organizations." Improved resource usage and management can be realized by server, storage and network virtualization.

    Chris Wolf, Virtualization: From the Desktop to the Enterprise
    Furthermore, Chris Wolf, author of Virtualization: From the Desktop to the Enterprise, said "Several years ago, storage virtualization technology would be a hard sell for the small and midsized (SMB), but that is no longer true today. In fact, I've seen storage virtualization as a very logical complement to many server virtualization deployments within SMB organizations."

    Wolf adds that it can be tough to meet backup window requirements following a server consolidation as a result of CPU, storage and network I/O contention among servers now forced to share physical devices. Storage resellers can alleviate backup and data protection problems by bundling storage virtualization and server virtualization as a single complementary solution, as outlined in the sidebar to the right.

    Harley Stagner, Server Virtualization Expert
    IT director Harley Stagner discusses the value of storage virtualization in itself: "A virtual storage infrastructure can help with disaster recovery plans, even if you are not planning on taking advantage of virtual server technology. When thinking about disaster recovery, the storage infrastructure should create a flexible, solid foundation for the infrastructure anyway. A replicated storage area network (SAN) can make recovering from a disaster a quick process. An SMB will find that an IP-based (iSCSI) SAN provides the most flexibility, ease of use and the lowest price when compared to a Fibre Channel SAN. Besides, an SMB is more likely to have staff that knows about IP networking than Fibre Channel."

    For more on virtualization technologies and services, visit the following topic pages:

  • Storage Virtualization
  • Server Virtualization

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