Virtualization is proving to be an unstoppable force in the IT world, the result of a more software-defined approach to the datacenter. While the majority of enterprises begin virtualization at the server level, it is critical that their storage platform be optimized to match up with the needs of a virtualized IT infrastructure.
While server virtualization brings increased performance and management to the datacenter, it is critical to also consider storage because of the additional workload that virtualization creates versus a traditional I/O model. Inadequate storage performance for virtualized workloads negatively impacts an enterprise's entire data infrastructure and puts a significant strain on their IT staff and end users
As a result, virtualization has created a need for storage specifically designed to handle its unique challenges, including insufficient data protection, increased complexity and management, and inadequate performance.
Virtualized environments can suffer from insufficient data protection because of the need for VM-level data protection and availability, which traditional storage architectures were not designed to provide. Storage based snapshots are more efficient than software based snapshots; however, storage based snapshots require integration with the operating system or hypervisor to properly quiesce the data.
One of the benefits of virtualization is making IT departments more agile with centralized and unified management, so storage solutions should integrate with the virtualization management utility, creating a single pane of glass from which to manage the entire infrastructure.
As previously mentioned, inadequate performance is the heavy hitter when it comes to virtualization challenges for storage. Many consider flash to be the best solution to this challenge, but all flash solutions are extremely expensive and do not have the proven track record of traditional spinning disks. One solution is to purchase a hybrid flash storage platform that provides the performance of flash storage with the reliability of spinning disks.
Nimble Storage is a hybrid storage solution developed from the ground up as such, unlike traditional storage vendors that have attempted to attach flash storage to their traditional way of thinking. Nimble has a strong relationship with VMware and a deep integration with vSphere and vCenter for storage based snapshots, array based replication with VMware’s Site Recovery Manager, and a single pane of glass for management using Nimble’s vCenter plug-in.
The lesson to be learned from all of this is, don’t get caught up in the momentum of virtualization and lose sight of how important storage is to the performance of your environment. If your storage isn’t up to snuff, it will be impossible to achieve the full benefits offered by your newly virtualized environment.