Resurrect your old SAN storage

storage virtualisation

As the old saying goes, the only things certain in life are death and taxes… and the fact that at some point you’ll run out of storage!

2019 is predicted to be another bumper year for storage manufacturers, as we all spend more of our precious IT budget on buying new SANs to keep up with the ever-increasing amount of data that we need to store.

This is being driven by a number of factors, including compliance, artificial intelligence, analytics data, the Internet of Things (IoT), higher resolution videos/photos and the steady move away from mechanical tape to disk-based Virtual Tape Library (VTL) backup solutions. Indeed, we’ve seen the explosion in storage within our own Blue Chip Cloud infrastructure, where customers need for both high-performance and archive storage has grown massively over the past few years and now exceeds many petabytes of data.

In a recent survey of 112 respondents from organisations involved in Big Data, AI and IoT applications, conducted by NVMe analyst firm G2M concluded that “over 79% of respondents believe that current processing/storage architectures will not be able to handle the amount of data in their industry in the next 5 years.”

It appears that most companies will need to invest in additional storage solutions over the next 12 months, but what if you only invested in new SAN solutions 2-3 years ago and have not budgeted to rip and replace your old storage solution? – Storage Virtualisation could help!

The days of having to replace a complete SAN with an updated solution to gain extra capacity, performance and features has gone with the advent of storage virtualisation, so what exactly is this technology and how could I benefit from it?

“Storage virtualisation is the process of grouping the physical storage from multiple network storage devices so that it looks like a single storage device.”

Modern storage virtualisation solutions, such as IBM’s Storwize V7000 SAN controller, allow legacy SANs from different vendors, such as HP, EMC and Dell, to be connected and externally virtualised, i.e. becoming what appears to be a single pool of storage. What’s the benefit of doing this?

Externally virtualising an older SAN behind something like an IBM V7000 Storage controller, not only significantly improves performance of the old disks, but more importantly also allows you to utilise features on legacy SAN solutions without these advantages.

  • De-duplication
  • Real-time compression
  • Auto-tiering
  • Thin-provisioning
  • SAN-level replication

For example, if you had an old EMC and IBM DS4000 SAN, these could be virtualised behind a single IBM V7000 controller containing a small number of SSD drives. Real-time compression and de-dupe could them be deployed on this old storage, almost doubling the current usable capacity, and massively improving disk IO performance, thereby giving your old storage a new lease of life with relatively little investment..

Best of all it gives you the best of both worlds, by allowing you to maximise the investment you’ve already made in your existing storage, while allowing you to deploy the latest storage technology, such as flash drives.

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