Hardware for Virtualization: Do's and Don'ts: Page 2

Posted December 18, 2007

Drew Robb

Drew Robb

(Page 2 of 2)

Storage Virtualization

Most of the provisos covered above also apply to purchasing gear for storage virtualization.

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"Most of the same rules for classic physical environments still apply to virtual environments — it's really a question of providing a robust environment for the application and its data," said John Lallier, vice president of technology at FalconStor Software (Melville, N.Y.).

While virtual environments can shield users from hardware specific dependencies, they can also introduce other issues. One concern when consolidating applications on a single virtualization server, for example, is that you may be over-consolidating to the detriment of performance and re-introducing a single-point-of-failure. When one physical server fails, multiple virtual application servers are affected.

"Customers should look for systems that can provide the same level of data protection that they already enjoy in their physical environments," said Lallier.

He believes, therefore, that storage purchasers should opt for resilient and highly available gear that will keep vital services active no matter what hardware problems arise. In addition, Lallier suggests investing in several layers of protection for large distributed applications that may span multiple application servers. This should include disaster recovery (DR) technology so operations can quickly resume at remote sites. To keep costs down, he said users should select DR solutions that do not require an enormous investment in bandwidth.

As a cost-cutting measure, Lallier advocates doubling up virtual environments. If the user is deploying a virtual environment to better manage application servers, for example, why not use the same virtualization environment to better manage the data protection servers? As an example, FalconStor has created virtual appliances for VMware Virtual Infrastructure that enable users to make use of its continuous data protection (CDP) or virtual tape library (VTL) systems that can be installed and managed as easily as application servers in this environment.

Of course, every vendor has a different take. Network Appliance, aka NettApp (Sunnyvale, Calif.), provides an alternative to FalconStor using the snapshot technology available in its StoreVault S500. This storage array handles instant backups and restores without disrupting the established IT environment.

"Useful products are able to host VMs over multiple protocols, and the StoreVault can do it via NFS, iSCSI or FCP — whatever your environment needs," said Andrew Meyer StoreVault Product Marketing Manager at NetApp.

"Don't get trapped into buying numerous products for each individual solution. One product that is flexible with multiple options (can handle VMs, create a SAN, handle NAS needs, provide snapshots and replication) may be a smarter investment as a piece of infrastructure."

This article was first published on Serverwatch.com.

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