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Storage Virtualization 3.0

Server virtualization is so new and the rate of deployment is so red-hot that people are saying it's going to drive a similar trend of storage virtualization.  But the fact is logical representations of physical storage have been around for a long time - we just haven't used the term "storage virtualization."

In preparation for a presentation about the evolution of corporate computing grids, I did an in-depth interview with the administrators of one data center. Among other things, I asked the IT staff when they were going to implement storage virtualization.  After looking at me to see if I was kidding, they were quick to respond they've been using virtualized storage for years.  They pointed out that logical volumes have been around since dirt and RAID technology has been main stream since the early 90s.

In a recent IT Brand Pulse brand leader survey, end users selected EMC as the "storage virtualization" market leader (see a summary of the results at The responses mirrored the results of a previous survey where end users selected EMC as the "storage" market leader. The two surveys were in some respects redundant because IT professionals expect leading vendors to deliver a broad portfolio of technology that in one way or another virtualizes storage including NAS, SSD, RAID, VTL, replication, de-duplication and SANs.

To put the evolution of storage virtualization in perspective, I propose there are two distinct eras that we've already experienced and a third well-defined era on the way:

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