Up the V Stack

Storage pros work with increasing levels of virtualization

July 4, 2007

3 Min Read
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Still suspicious of virtualization? Its encroachment into every aspect of IT may force skeptics to reconsider. Nothing, it seems, is going to stop this juggernaut.

"Think of virtualization as a stack," says Brian Duckering, senior director of products and alliances at Appstream, a vendor of application streaming software for use with desktop virtualization. (See Symantec Steps Into Streaming and Symantec Adds Vista Virtualization.) You can start with decoupling the server OS from its underlying hardware, then move up from there.

It's a progression that storage managers already know. They accept the ubiquity of VMware, and Microsoft, Xensource, and Virtual Iron are cranking up their virtual engines. (See VMware: The Charging Bellwether.) They're also familiar with the progress in file- and block-based storage virtualization. (See Storage Virtualization Edges On.) Thin provisioning is the talk -- if not the toast -- of the town in IT. (See Pillar Pushes Provisioning, Capacity, 3PAR, NetApp Join Ranks, and The Skinny on Thin Provisioning.) And switch-based virtualization looms on the horizon. (See Storage Cannibals.)

Each of these tacks could benefit storage managers by reducing the resources they need to back up and secure stored data. And now, the proposition is being extended to data center elements hitherto untouched.

Take desktops, for instance. Virtualizing desktop and laptop configurations is supposed to help ease centralized setup, backup, and security for remote workers. (See Insider Eyes Virtual Desktops.) Enter suppliers like VMware, XenSource, Novell, Parallels, and Red Hat. There's even talk of making desktop virtualization a service, eliminating the IT middleman even more. (See Wanted: Virtual Desktop Services.) The chief holdup, it seems, is Microsoft's unwillingness to budge on issues of licensing software for virtual machines.Virtualization brokers may also save storage costs. These software packages link VMware and other OS virtualizers with desktop configuration tools. Suppliers such as Citrix, Dunes, Kidaro, Leostream, Microsoft, Provision Networks, and Zeus are getting into this act. (See Desktop Virtualization Brokers Emerge.)

Then we have application virtualizers, which decouple remote apps from the underlying OS. (See Application Virtualization Takes Hold.) Vendors like Thinstall are aiming to help ITers save a ton of operating and capital costs. These include savings on storage, since less will be used, and there's no need to back up multiple remote workers, because all the data and apps are centrally stored.

All this reveals a clear trend toward virtualization as the building block for the kind of scalability that storage systems increasingly require.

Yet there are holdouts aplenty. "I'll use virtualization if it works, but I can't say I really trust it," said Richard Taylor, senior system programmer, IT, for Clark County, Nev., in an interview at the recent Interop trade show. (See The Virtual Answer to Laptop Security.) His thoughts reflect reservations other ITers have expressed. (See Users Talk Virtual Troubles, VMware: The Virtualization Drag, and Users Talk File Virtualization.)

No matter. The road to virtualization may be paved with doubt and even fear, but it's clear that given time, some compelling solutions based on the Big V will prevail.Mary Jander, Site Editor, Byte and Switch

  • Citrix Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CTXS)

  • Dunes Technologies SA

  • Kidaro

  • Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT)

  • Novell Inc. (Nasdaq: NOVL)

  • Parallels Inc.

  • Provision Networks

  • Red Hat Inc. (Nasdaq: RHAT)

  • Virtual Iron Software Inc.

  • VMware Inc. (NYSE: VMW)

  • XenSource Inc.

  • Zeus Technology

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