The Relevance and Value of a “Storage Hypervisor”
Upcoming SlideShare
Loading in...5
×
 

The Relevance and Value of a “Storage Hypervisor”

on

  • 364 views

Virtualized Management for More Than Just Servers

Virtualized Management for More Than Just Servers

Statistics

Views

Total Views
364
Views on SlideShare
364
Embed Views
0

Actions

Likes
0
Downloads
3
Comments
0

0 Embeds 0

No embeds

Accessibility

Categories

Upload Details

Uploaded via as Adobe PDF

Usage Rights

© All Rights Reserved

Report content

Flagged as inappropriate Flag as inappropriate
Flag as inappropriate

Select your reason for flagging this presentation as inappropriate.

Cancel
  • Full Name Full Name Comment goes here.
    Are you sure you want to
    Your message goes here
    Processing…
Post Comment
Edit your comment

The Relevance and Value of a “Storage Hypervisor” The Relevance and Value of a “Storage Hypervisor” Document Transcript

  • MarketReportThe Relevance and Value of a “StorageHypervisor”Virtualized Management for More Than Just ServersBy Mark PetersOctober 2011© 2011, Enterprise Strategy Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
  • Market Report: The Relevance and Value of a “Storage Hypervisor” 2Contents Overview ....................................................................................................................................................... 3 Efficiency and Hypervisors........................................................................................................................................ 3 What Do Users Need?................................................................................................................................... 4 The New Normal ....................................................................................................................................................... 4 Storage Hinders Progress ......................................................................................................................................... 5 Server Virtualization Pressures Storage ................................................................................................................... 5 A Storage Hypervisor Vision ......................................................................................................................... 6 What to Look For ...................................................................................................................................................... 7 The Bigger Truth ........................................................................................................................................... 8All trademark names are property of their respective companies. Information contained in this publication has been obtained by sources TheEnterprise Strategy Group (ESG) considers to be reliable but is not warranted by ESG. This publication may contain opinions of ESG, which aresubject to change from time to time. This publication is copyrighted by The Enterprise Strategy Group, Inc. Any reproduction or redistribution ofthis publication, in whole or in part, whether in hard-copy format, electronically, or otherwise to persons not authorized to receive it, without theexpress consent of the Enterprise Strategy Group, Inc., is in violation of U.S. copyright law and will be subject to an action for civil damages and, ifapplicable, criminal prosecution. Should you have any questions, please contact ESG Client Relations at (508) 482-0188. © 2011, Enterprise Strategy Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
  • Market Report: The Relevance and Value of a “Storage Hypervisor” 3OverviewThe need for economic and operational efficiencies transcends all organizations. Commercial businesses, non-profits, government departments, and large and small enterprises are all striving to make the most, and more, ofwhat they have. Economic conditions don’t matter either. In economically challenging times, tight budgets dictateefficiency in order to get tasks accomplished with limited funds. But in boom times, efficiency is equally importantto maximizing value in terms of profit, time, or resources while executing on objectives. This is borne out by ESGresearch: ESG asked senior IT professionals in enterprise and midmarket organizations in North America andWestern Europe to identify the most important considerations for justifying IT investments in 2009-2011. As Figure1 shows, the top two priorities continue to be reducing operational expenditures and business processimprovement.1 Clearly, investments are made in efficiency-focused endeavors. Figure 1. Most Important Considerations for Justifying 2011 IT Investments, Three-year Trend Which of the following considerations do you believe will be most important in justifying IT investments to your organization’s business management team over the next 12-18 months? (Percent of respondents, three responses accepted) 62% Reduction in operational expenditures 54% 43% 37% Business process improvement 42% 39% 31% 2009 Return on investment / speed of payback 33% 37% (N=492) 2010 32% (N=515) Improved security / risk management 36% 35% 2011 (N=611) 37% Reduction in capital expenditures 30% 24% 20% Improved regulatory compliance 23% 19% Reduced time-to-market for our products or 17% 10% services 16% 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% Source: Enterprise Strategy Group, 2011.Efficiency and HypervisorsThe evolution of IT is reaching at least one true pinnacle of efficiency with server virtualization: the transformationfrom the “one application, one server” paradigm to running multiple applications on different operating systems ona single physical machine. This is possible because of a specialized software layer that separates functionality fromspecific hardware: the hypervisor. The term was coined to indicate a software layer that resides at a higher levelthan a simple “supervisor” that controls hardware. It is a layer of abstraction between the physical hardware andguest operating systems. It can do the heavy lifting that makes it possible to run UNIX on a Windows machine. In apurely physical server environment, the operating system is intimately aware of underlying hardware such asprocessors, drivers, bios, etc. In a virtualized server environment, hypervisors such as VMware vSphere, MicrosoftHyper-V, Citrix XenServer, and IBM PowerVM get in between these physical realities and the virtual machines (VMs)1 Source: ESG Research Report, 2011 IT Spending Intentions Survey, January 2011. © 2011, Enterprise Strategy Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
  • Market Report: The Relevance and Value of a “Storage Hypervisor” 4to provide a consistent platform regardless of the VM operating system. Since this is so accepted for servers andprovides proven value to users, mightn’t the same hold true for storage?The Storage HypervisorA storage hypervisor provides a similar layer of abstraction between the physical storage resources and theapplications using them. Here’s how Wikipedia defines it: The storage hypervisor, a centrally managed supervisory software program, provides a comprehensive set of storage control and monitoring functions that operate as a transparent virtual layer across consolidated [storage hardware] pools to improve their availability, speed, and utilization.2This sounds so straightforward, almost innocuous, but it subsumes some very important attributes and isdramatically different from the way that most storage is managed today. For instance, a storage hypervisor isdesigned to be agnostic to, and to accommodate arrays from, different manufacturers that may be using differentdisk tiers (SSD, SAS, SATA) and storage network protocols (Fibre Channel, FCoE, iSCSI). Arrays that would beincompatible in a traditional physical environment are suddenly able to work together.However, just because a definition exists doesn’t mean the complete reality exists (although a few vendors arebeginning to name storage virtualization products this way, and there are green shoots of a storage hypervisorspring appearing). Some early storage virtualization products that deliver some of this functionality are array-basedand don’t support multi-vendor storage; some are appliance-based and may support some other vendor’s storage.Some storage virtualization products are software-only, some are software built into an external controller, and afew are network appliances. These are definitely a start, and given the resounding success of hypervisors deliveringserver virtualization, doesn’t it make sense to take storage virtualization in the same direction?What Do Users Need?The challenges that IT managers face today are daunting and well documented, and as such will not be repeated indepth here. First, there is a constantly increasing need for additional resources to support growing data volumesbased on both natural application growth and new workloads (think social media and big data). In many cases,organizations try to handle this by simply throwing more hardware at the problem, resulting in massively under-utilized assets. Next, operational processes have not caught up with technology innovations, so as IT servicedelivery becomes more agile (and cloud enters the fray, for instance), administrators struggle to manage with thesame old, inflexible processes. And, of course, budget constraints are always an issue, even more so in recent years.In addition, as virtual servers and cloud computing are improving provisioning and providing a higher level ofservices, users are beginning to expect “instant IT.” In the old days (let’s say 5 years ago—or now for those thathave not taken the server virtualization plunge!), if a user wanted to launch a new application to support a businessprocess, he/she had an expectation that it would take a while—weeks or months—to get through the normalchannels. But with fast, easy provisioning made possible by virtualization, IT can spin up a new VM in minutes.The New NormalServer virtualization is revolutionizing IT. It has enabled levels of efficiency (for which, read cost savings) neverbefore dreamed of: reducing physical server needs by 50%, 60%, or even 80% and freeing up staff members frommany management tasks. In the past, many business decisions were made based on what IT was practically able todo. Now, IT is more able to adjust to serve the business.Of particular note is the fact that virtualization benefits actually increase as virtual deployments grow and mature.This was documented in ESG research which led to the creation of ESG’s Server Virtualization Maturity Model.3 ESGwas able to separate respondents into three groups based on the extent of their virtualization deployments:advanced (25% of those surveyed), progressing (53%), and basic (22%). The criteria used were:2 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Storage_hypervisor3 Source: ESG Research Report, The Evolution of Server Virtualization, November 2010. © 2011, Enterprise Strategy Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
  • Market Report: The Relevance and Value of a “Storage Hypervisor” 5 Scope of deployment, measured by the percent of servers virtualized Virtual production ratio, measured by the percent of VMs running in the production environment Efficiency, measured by the virtual-to-physical server consolidation ratio Workload penetration, measured by the deployment of multiple virtual workloads, particularly mission critical onesESG research indicates that while lower capital and operational costs and greater IT efficiency accompany alldeployments, only the advanced implementations are actually becoming dynamic IT environments and vastlyimproving application provisioning, maintenance, availability, and backup/recovery processes. The benefits increaseas virtualization experience expands. This reality will soon become the new normal in IT.Storage Hinders ProgressSounds good, does it not? But it doesn’t look quite so rosy from the storage end of things. While new serverstrategies have transformed operations, storage implementations can often hinder progress. This is not whollysurprising. Storage architectures, implementations, and management techniques originally came from themonolithic mainframe era and, while huge improvements have been made, the underlying concepts upon whichthe storage architecture was originally designed are cracking under the weight of progress. Scale-up silos ofproprietary disk were designed to be physically managed and mapped to individual servers, but that is no longerhow the processing side of IT works.Server virtualization users know this already. As Figure 2 shows, when asked which storage developments wouldenable wider server virtualization usage, at least 25% of respondents mentioned each of the following aspects:faster storage provisioning, more scalable storage infrastructure to support rapid VM growth, and increasedstorage virtualization. Figure 2. Storage Developments That Would Enable Wider Server Virtualization Usage From a storage infrastructure perspective, which of the following developments do you believe need to take place in order to enable more widespread server virtualization usage in your organization? (Percent of respondents, N=190, multiple responses accep Additional training for IT staff 33% Faster storage provisioning 28% More scalable storage infrastructure to support rapid 25% virtual machine growth Increased use of storage virtualization 25% Better storage migration tools 25% 0% 5% 10% 15% 20% 25% 30% 35% Source: Enterprise Strategy Group, 2010.Server Virtualization Pressures StorageThe virtualization of servers impacts storage and storage decisions; and not in a good way. First, equipment needs:servers with direct-attached storage can’t move VMs to other servers because the data is only available on that © 2011, Enterprise Strategy Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
  • Market Report: The Relevance and Value of a “Storage Hypervisor” 6server. What good is the ability to move your virtual workloads if the data can’t come, too? Networked storage isrequired to make that happen, and consequently virtual implementations require investments in more and betterstorage. In addition, storage (and networks) must handle higher IO and throughput densities because now multipleapplications are sharing and better utilizing a single server’s capabilities. And when it comes to backup, thatproblem gets worse. The upshot, which is not often mentioned, is that the cost of upgrading storage to handleserver virtualization can negate a significant portion of the savings that virtualization enables. Oops!Servers are basically cheap and interoperable today, and the hypervisor provides the functionality to makeapplications work on any server. Server virtualization is hardware agnostic and, except for some speeds and feeds,servers aren’t really differentiated by functionality. On the other hand, storage is expensive, complex, proprietary,and incompatible; vendors sell a lot of it based not just on capacity, but on built-in features like snapshots,replication capability, storage tiering, etc. that is software-based but built into the array. As a result, buying anddeploying servers is a pretty easy process, while buying and deploying storage is not. It’s a mismatch of virtualcapabilities on the server side and primarily physical capabilities on the storage side. Storage can be a ball and chainkeeping IT shops in the 20th century instead of accommodating the 21st century.Storage needs to improve its résumé to match the job openings in server virtualization. Does it make sense to makethese improvements within arrays? Or, having seen the impact that server hypervisor functionality has made,would a storage hypervisor make more sense? Clearly, it makes conceptual sense—both operational and financial—to complete the abstraction; to separate the storage functionality from the physical storage system by creating astorage hypervisor. Then, IT organizations could use whatever arrays they like, even supposedly incompatible ones.Put snapshots, tiering, load balancing, and the like in the hypervisor, and IT can easily move data between arrays,scale up or down to accommodate business needs, and deliver high service levels to users while minimizing costand waste. It would make virtual storage as easy to provision and manage as virtual servers.A Storage Hypervisor VisionSo, the concept of a storage hypervisor is generically good and appealing. But what should it actually look like, andwhat would the specific benefits be? It should start with the same kind of core components that servervirtualization uses: a secure, scalable storage virtualization platform (like VMware vSphere and others in the serverspace) to consolidate workloads, and a management platform (VMware vCenter, etc.) to simplify and automateinfrastructure tasks, provisioning, service delivery, compliance, data protection, etc. As with server virtualization,this would enable IT administrators without specific storage expertise to manage storage tasks. Below are some ofthe key capabilities that a storage hypervisor would provide: A common management platform to aggregate capacity from any hardware platform. This would be regardless of vendor or disk type and could be shared out to different servers. This capability would let IT select storage based on price and service regardless of vendor without worrying about the choice’s impact on processes and functionality. Storage provisioning and management automation. This relieves administrators of manually creating array groups, allocating LUNs, partitioning volumes, creating RAID sets, and performing other complicated tasks designed to provide the capacity required for each application at the agreed performance and availability levels. Today, provisioning is often little more than an educated guessing game that requires estimating how much capacity an application will need today, next week, and next year. Over-provisioning is a common strategy for ensuring that applications don’t run out of capacity, but it is extremely inefficient as wasted resources sit idle. In contrast, a storage hypervisor would use built-in intelligence to provision storage for applications and servers, automatically selecting a combination of disks to achieve performance, availability, and cost objectives. It would also rearrange volumes to maximize performance and efficiency. Transparent data mobility across storage tiers and arrays without shifting or losing functionality. Like a server hypervisor, a storage hypervisor must provide its own functionality, not count on what the underlying arrays can do, in order to be vendor-neutral. For example, a storage hypervisor would free administrators from having to map virtual volumes to physical volumes to retain vendor-specific snapshots. © 2011, Enterprise Strategy Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
  • Market Report: The Relevance and Value of a “Storage Hypervisor” 7 In addition, this would reduce the total cost of ownership by eliminating array-specific software licenses to provide features such as multi-pathing, thin provisioning, automated tiering, etc. The ability to pool storage resources from various arrays and vendors, and across data centers, to be accessed from anywhere. This would enable the creation of a single virtual data center made up of geographically distributed locations. If not yet quite a data center without walls, at least the walls can be over the horizon! Most storage virtualization solutions are restricted to the data center by physical array limitations. Server clustering allows distributed servers to depend on each other for high availability and transparent movement of workloads, but storage at the site is the boundary. If that boundary is eliminated and data centers 50 km apart can serve that function for each other, then multi-data-center failover is possible without expensive add-on mirroring and automation products. This makes disaster recovery, failover, and high availability much simpler to achieve. Now you can think of having a highly available, virtual storage cloud that is stretched across geographic boundaries. Similar capital and operational cost benefits as the server hypervisor. This would minimize the number of arrays required, allowing IT to leverage price competition, and simplify operations. IT would benefit from “array meritocracy.”What to Look ForSome key capabilities are required in any viable storage hypervisor. IT departments depend on storage for morethan the high level functions described above; the actual methods of achieving these objectives currently lie inarray-based software features, so they would need to be included within the hypervisor. These include: Application integration with snapshots for backup and cloning, with options for when to snap, how long to retain snapshots, and when to back up offsite. Integrated snapshot recovery management. Automated storage tiering to balance performance and capacity requirements. Thin provisioning for greater efficiency. Deep integration with server hypervisor capabilities. This would include virtual array integration and data protection (such as integration with tools like VMware vStorage APIs for array integration) and management platform plug-ins. This would let the server hypervisor speed operations while consuming less processing power, memory, and storage network bandwidth. Synchronous or asynchronous mirroring across sites, using virtualization to allow primary site tier-1 storage from vendor A to, for instance, mirror at a secondary site to tier-2 storage from vendor B. Integration with site switching automation (examples are VMware Site Recovery Manager and IBM Tivoli System Automation) for complete server, storage, and network failover. Taken to its logical conclusion, this enables virtually any location, regardless of distance or infrastructure type, to provide high availability and failover services in case of disaster. Intuitive management features such as providing visibility across the entire SAN topology with drill-down on individual components and integrated virtual volume performance analysis to speed problem resolution.A few vendors have already begun to start thinking in these terms; there are the industry giants—IBM with its SANVolume Controller, EMC with VPLEX, HDS with its Universal Storage Platform-V—as well as some smaller software-only players such as DataCore. As the capabilities of these various approaches not only expand but become knownand understood better, the end-user opportunity for improving efficiency and simplifying operations is simplymonumental. © 2011, Enterprise Strategy Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
  • Market Report: The Relevance and Value of a “Storage Hypervisor” 8The Bigger TruthThe concept of a storage hypervisor is not just semantics. It is not just another way to market something thatalready exists or to ride the wave of a currently trendy IT term. A storage hypervisor has substantial, actualoperational and business value. While some storage virtualization capabilities are available currently, they typicallyhave limitations. Organizations have now experienced a good taste of the benefits of server virtualization with itshypervisor-based architecture and, in many cases, the results have been truly impressive: dramatic savings in bothCAPEX and OPEX, vastly improved flexibility and mobility, faster provisioning of resources and ultimately of servicesdelivered to the business, and advances in data protection. The storage hypervisor is a natural next step and it canprovide a similar leap forward.The combination of benefits from server and storage hypervisors can provide the sort of truly efficientinfrastructure utility that has been promised for more than a decade. Both capabilities are needed to achieveflexible IT pools. As long as IT organizations have to manually intervene to ensure accurate, optimized, and smoothoperations, then the “promised land” has definitely not been reached. Task automation is the foundation for anyinfrastructure that is truly in service to the business. Storage virtualization itself is a start—and has becomeendemic because of the inherent value and functionalities it provides—but it is ultimately only virtualizing acomponent and not a full system. By comparison, a competent storage hypervisor is the route to a fully flexiblestorage infrastructure that can help create a cross-site “‘storage cloud” with pooled resources accessible fromanywhere, while providing a new approach to high-availability and workload flexibility. It can extend freedom ofchoice regarding storage and enable easy re-purposing of arrays for investment protection. This is one of thoseareas where technological possibility has now caught up with logical business desire. Storage hypervisors arelogical, vital, and just plain sensible. Naturally, their impact will be earliest and greatest in large, complex ITenvironments, but, as with server hypervisors, the benefits will cascade broadly across the industry over time.It’s somewhat ironic that the first virtual operating systems (SVS and MVS for IBM’s System/370 in 1972) were formainframes; four decades later, it’s possible to argue that server virtualization is creating “software mainframes.”As we put IT back together again, it is crucial that we consolidate the management of storage just as much asanything else. © 2011, Enterprise Strategy Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
  • 20 Asylum Street | Milford, MA 01757 | Tel:508.482.0188 Fax: 508.482.0218 | www.enterprisestrategygroup.com