Apart from increasing storage performance, storage virtualization caters to the companies’ need to unify and operate all available storage under one user interface (UI), while also utilizing various features and functionalities associated with it. Virtualized storage exists to simplify and optimize as organizations turn to software to address their desire for IT environment simplicity, power, and efficiency.
With this in mind, several decades ago, IBM was the one to coin the term “virtualization” in the world of data center computing. In its turn, VMware worked to bring the technology to wider audience that uses commodity x86 server hardware. VMware expanded virtualization to CPU, memory, and disk, so multiple applications and operating systems could run at the same time. Hypervisor is the layer that divides the physical hardware resources, virtualizes and oversees them, assigning, as a host node, a set package of them for every guest operating system – virtual machine (VM).
The idea of hypervisor provided regular businesses with the ability to use the more accessible commercial x86 servers to run all the necessary mission-critical applications on a single server node. However, the hypervisor didn’t have a way to share the resources between several nodes connected over the network: applications were “siloed” within their respective host nodes. It created a single point of failure (SPOF): if a server went down, so did the apps and the valuable data. To address that, VMware vMotion and VMware Fault Tolerance came into the picture to enable apps and data migration between servers across a shared network. All this required power and finesse.
Storage virtualization then introduced the shared storage configuration. It included storage High Availability (HA), which, at first, was an advanced feature enclosed in physical shared storage, like SAN and NAS, and allowed to the reduce the chance for downtime events distressing business productivity and revenue. Over time, vendors virtualized the features of SAN and NAS and brought them in the storage virtualization software features format to the regular x86 servers. You may now know these features under the common umbrella terms of software-defined storage – virtual SAN.
Storage virtualization logically abstracts all the direct-attached server storage underlying capacity into a unified virtual storage pool. This virtual storage device can pool resources from different locations across the network, from different hardware vendors, servers, SAN or NAS. Then, storage virtualization software presents it as one logical view via an operation user interface (UI). You can assign a dedicated VM with the necessary amount of resources and desired apps and utilize what you got to the fullest. In turn, storage virtualization often has the High Availability technology embedded into its software with simple and fast disaster recovery features in place.