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Storage Vendors Cater To V-SMBs

At VMworld this year there is a lot of emphasis on making the storage easier and less expensive for the small to medium sized businesses that are taking their first steps into the server virtualization market. The focus of these storage vendors is on driving down costs and driving out complexity.
At VMworld this year there is a lot of emphasis on making the storage easier and less expensive for the small to medium sized businesses that are taking their first steps into the server virtualization market. The focus of these storage vendors is on driving down costs and driving out complexity.There tends to be several methods being offered to SMBs to make their lives easier as they try to implement shared storage to get all of the advantages of server virtualization. The first is storage as an application, similar to what we discussed in our article "Virtual Storage Infrastructure".

Companies like DataCore, FalconStor, StorMagic, Nexenta and others are abstracting the storage software from the array. This removes the storage intelligence from a dedicated array and loads it as a virtual appliance on the server itself allowing storage inside the physical ESX host to be shared. Some of these storage as an application products will allow you to share all the storage in each of the physical hosts to the other physical hosts. The use case then is loading up each server with lots of storage and then share it through the use of one of the above applications.

For those that who want a more traditional approach of a dedicated storage array, software as an application still can play a role. Companies like StarWind Software, Nexenta and Datacore can turn a pair of standard Intel servers with attached storage into a cost effective, highly available alternative to the traditional storage system.

At the other end of the spectrum is Pivot3, whose storage system is built on a grid of storage nodes. What Pivot3 figured out was that the compute utilization on each node in the grid was underutilized and they could actually support virtual machines on those nodes in addition to maintaining storage operations. Basically instead of storage attached to servers they have essentially servers attached to storage. Creating another interesting choice for SMBs looking to drive out costs but get all the benefits of server virtualization.

Integration to Vcenter, VMware's management console was also a key point of focus. It seems that having the storage be managed as a tab within Vcenter is a minimum bar for entry. EvoStor who will be releasing a product next year looks to take that a step further with even tighter integration allowing storage to be managed at the point of VM creation.

Regardless of the path you take, there is no question that SMBs should be able to find the right solution that fits their budget and expertise level.

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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.