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From VMworld To Houston...

Sorry for the delay in getting this entry posted. I arrived in Houston last night to a city that is about 60% blacked out, including my office. Thanks to the kindness (a common theme in Houston) of a local storage integrator, Unique Digital, I am able to be back in business and send you today's entry, "From VMworld to StorageWorld."
Sorry for the delay in getting this entry posted. I arrived in Houston last night to a city that is about 60% blacked out, including my office. Thanks to the kindness (a common theme in Houston) of a local storage integrator, Unique Digital, I am able to be back in business and send you today's entry, "From VMworld to StorageWorld."Before I jump into today's entry I have a request. If you are a Houston IT professional and have navigated or are navigating the situation, please e-mail me at: [email protected] . Now on with today's entry.

Making my way through the sessions and exhibit hall at VMworld, it feels like this is a storage show.

The reasons are obvious. Storage is a critical component in all the things that make VMware sizzle. VMotion, Site Recovery Manager, Distributed Resource Manager, and Desktop Virtualization all require shared storage. Setting up storage correctly to make these functions work is complicated.

The storage manufacturers seem to be racing to the rescue. One of the common themes is using IP-based storage via iSCSI or NFS. Obviously, you expect this sort of recommendation from the iSCSI suppliers like Compellent Technologies, FalconStor, or LeftHand Networks, and NFS supporters like NetApp and OnStor.

EMC keeps surprising me with its support of using NFS. In fact, I was at an Oracle VMware Session where an EMC's Oracle Expert stated that he preferred using NFS. This isn't really new, but it still takes me off-guard.

However, it goes beyond just protocols. Suppliers have to and are beginning to make improvements to their software applications. A key emphasis has to be a reduction in the number of clicks and interfaces that you have to deal with when managing storage in a virtual environment.

Xiotech was showing how it was using Web 2.0 Services to eliminate some of the interfaces and clicks that users have to go through to do common virtualization storage management tasks.

A stark difference in this show was how the conversation has shifted from talking about the hypervisor to talking about managing scale. Virtualization has quickly moved from initial rollouts to fully virtualized infrastructures. The result now is the demand for end-to-end management of those environments. Companies like Vizioncore and Tek-Tools are providing solutions to manage these sprawling infrastructures.

The problem with a show like VMworld is that everyone announces everything at once. We will try to dissect these announcements over the next few weeks. Until then, it's becoming clear that as server virtualization completes its move into production, IT professionals are going to be making their storage decisions based on how well storage manufacturers simplify and automate virtualization.

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George Crump is founder of Storage Switzerland, an analyst firm focused on the virtualization and storage marketplaces. It provides strategic consulting and analysis to storage users, suppliers, and integrators. An industry veteran of more than 25 years, Crump has held engineering and sales positions at various IT industry manufacturers and integrators. Prior to Storage Switzerland, he was CTO at one of the nation's largest integrators.