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Controlling Your data : Why Virtualisation Doesn't Mean Having Unlimited Storage Facilities [Podcast]

From a user perspective, virtualisation is a fantastic resource, allowing users - within finite limits of course - to fire up new virtual machines, in most cases, on an on-demand basis.

But from an IT manager’s perspective, virtualisation is also a potential headache in terms of resources, most notably when it comes to software licence and hardware resources.

This is a podcast with Andy Cordial, MD of Origin Storage

Whilst the former headache can be solved through the use of dynamic software licensing, the latter problem is not as easy to remediate, largely because increasing the number of machine instances almost invariably leads to a significant increase in data storage requirements.

Users reason - quite illogically as it turns out - that the available storage resources increases in tandem with the number of virtual machines and, whilst this can be true when it comes to cloud computing resources, most organisations choose to maintain their virtual systems storage on a localised basis, using cloud resources as and when required.

So how do you rationalise the data storage issue in the virtualised environment? It’s actually quite simple, and comes down to that old stalwart of new environment preparation: planning.

Most systems integrators offering vendor-based virtualisation solutions often process their client's data through a data de-duplication process that can dramatically reduce the volume of data required on a typical IT platform.

By spring cleaning data on a regular basis, as with the physical world, the virtualised data storage needs can be greatly reduced, meaning that IT staff have less data to store and secure. And if the data storage needs are reduced, then the data breach risk profile of the organisation is also reduced.

Once this analysis stage is complete, the next step is to draw up a network and IT infrastructure diagram. The situation is often made more complex because corporates often have operations in many different countries.

Once the network and IT diagram has been drawn up, the in-depth process of analysis can begin. This allows IT staff to reduce the organisation's risk profile, typically by redefining the data storage needs and reducing the level of access to that data.

HP's approach to this task centres the use of storage technology that supports high levels of data availability and storage utilisation, as well as the ability to scale non-disruptively as a business evolves.

HP's StorageWorks SAN solutions are billed as reducing the costs associated with multi-site, high availability storage by around 50 per cent, whilst at the same time increase typical capacity utilisation by around a third.

One of the most interesting and newest storage technologies for use with virtualised systems is the integration of cloud storage resources into the platform.

Although there are latency and bandwidth issues associated with virtualised/cloud storage systems, it is widely recognised that an effective archival system can significantly reduce the total cost of ownership of a given storage resource by only storing that data which has a good probability of requiring instant access.

Secure cloud-based archival storage technology has been used to great effect in health-related data storage systems, where research has shown that, once stored, 85 per cent of health care data is never accessed again.

With this in mind, a growing number of vendors are now offering cloud-based data storage systems that interface directly with virtualised platforms.

Whilst there is some trade-off with using a cloud data storage resource in terms of data latency and speed of access, the cost benefits more than outweigh the disadvantages.