Essential guide: How to choose storage for your virtual environment

Integrating storage within a virtual environment can be complex. Tough decisions need to be made to get the balance of features right, in addition to the performance, reliability, cost, management and the integration of your chosen solution.

Designed correctly, an advanced storage solution should meet the needs and requirements of your business. It should deliver increased efficiency, lower costs and be capable of facilitating consolidation to keep pace with your growing and agile organisation.

This guide has been designed to support IT leaders in their virtual storage decisions and to achieve a virtualised infrastructure that can deliver the performance and availability your business requires.

Reliability and capacity

A solution designed for performance at high levels of availability is vital to ensure uptime and to maintain a competitive advantage. Downtime can have a massive impact on brand reputation and customer loyalty so considering a ‘self-healing’ architecture, to safeguard against downtime, is worth looking into.

Capacity efficiency is another top priority and the ideal storage solution will be able to automatically maximise capacity without user intervention.

Storage for a virtual environment should not limit capacity or performance. Good virtual storage is not complex, but is flexible, non-intrusive and requires minimal human involvement.

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Application performance and scale

Optimal storage solutions for virtual environments will offer VMware Ready certified integration with VMware and several other solutions. This is to ensure a pain free set-up with easy management. Furthermore, data protection and provisioning tasks need to be completed at speed with minimal effort and training required.

VM sprawl can lead to additional arrays and this can create storage silos – these can impact application performance and make the management of this very difficult. This can be avoided by implementing a storage solution designed to consolidate and scale to support your company’s virtualised environment needs in terms of performance – a solution that aims to serve thousands of VMs to speed up the flow of information, such as within big data and analytics platforms.

Choosing a storage solution that can deliver analytics in real-time ensures the CIO always has good visibility of their organisation for a competitive edge.

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Software defined storage

With the amount of data increasing IT leaders may be running multiple data centres in different locations. The software within these data centres need to change easily, without impacting hardware.

Software defined storage still requires hardware, but it separates the control plane and the data plane. Therefore, storage only has to perform the simple tasks and the software-defined solution takes care of the intelligence.

With multiple virtual environments, where applications are being deployed, management will become complicated and inefficient without a single view for each environment. Software-defined-storage ensures and integrated view of all environments to streamline management.

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Ease of management, service and support

The ideal storage solution will introduce simplicity to your environment. To save on configuration time, a solution that offers optimal and consistent performance in addition to instant provisioning is worth considering. A multi-tenancy support function will enable users to self-manage the entire virtualised capacity. Another way to eradicate time wasting would be to ensure your solution is fully automated for tasks such as integration, data placement, policy-making, performance and reliability.

Service and support

Finding a vendor that can offer support and reassurance during times of need, is worth holding out for. When choosing a vendor, you will need to ensure that they can provide non-stop operations and non-disruptive upgrades and migrations.

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Total cost of ownership (TCO)

Virtualising your server environment can decrease your power and cooling costs, however virtualisation can increase the average power consumption for storage by as much as four times. Therefore, it is important to stay mindful of the fact that savings made on the server side need to be offset against what is used for storage.

To solve this issue, you may opt to choose storage solutions that minimise impact and carbon footprint. This will ensure you achieve a healthy total cost of ownership (TCO).

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Data protection

To take the pain out of your virtualised environment it is worth considering a solution that is capable of single-instance backup and restore, without the need for third party tools.

Opting for a fully automated data protection process, with snapshots and replication from the storage array is well worth considering. Ideally, one that can maintain steady and reliable copies of thousands of VMs with small retention schedules.

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Kayleigh Bateman

Kayleigh Bateman was the Editor of Information Age in 2018. She joined Vitesse Media from WeAreTheCIty where she was the Head of Digital Content and Business Development. During her time at WeAreTheCity...

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