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Midrange Virtual Storage Options Increase

As virtualization and cloud computing travel down from enterprises into the mid-range, the need for high-performance storage increases. EMC has introduced new versions of Navisphere Manager, RecoverPoint and Replication Manager software, along with new I/O interfaces for higher speeds. All of the new software and hardware is virtualization aware - integrated with VMware VCenter Server.

According to Rula Atac-Barrett, director of Clarion product marketing at EMC,  virtualization is solving many very real customer problems, though it carries the additional challenges of managing data and infrastructure in a virtualized environment. He says, "A couple of months ago we did an informal survey of customers on what their challenges were. By far, the number one problem from a storage management perspective was figuring out the root problem in a virtualized environment when it came to performance issues." Breaking down the survey numbers, Atac-Barrett explains, "Seventy percent said that virtual machine performance problems were the biggest issue. Fifty percent said it was really hard to work on the performance issues but they managed, but twenty percent said it was so hard they wanted to poke their own eyes out."

Solving performance issues for the survey participants broke down into three major challenges: Virtual machine management, flexible infrastructure and robust data protection. Atac-Barrett says that one of EMC's goals in the new version of Navisphere Manager is to reduce the number of screens administrators must navigate to perform tasks like matching logical storage to physical units. Looking at the situation in the previous version of Navisphere Manager, he says, "We set up ten VSX servers with 100 operating system instances, and we asked the engineers to match physical to virtual storage. It took hours to complete the task in this medium-sized environment, with hundreds of screens and spreadsheets involved." With the new virtual-aware software, Atac-Barrett says that the same task required two screens and a few minutes to complete.

Managing system growth and performance is one aspect of virtualization administration, albeit a critical aspect. Another critical aspect is backup and recovery of virtual images and the applications that live on them. Atac-Barrett says, "The number one IT spending priority is driving cost out of the environment. Number two is disaster recovery and business continuity. Customers know that virtualization drives cost out of the environment and now they're using it on tier one apps that are business-critical."

He says that the trend to virtualization is strengthening, but "these efforts are stalling because of disaster recovery and business continuity concerns." He points out that the new version of RecoverPoint is virtualization smart, allowing customers to treat virtual storage as they would a direct-attached physical connection in a physical environment.

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