With a plethora of storage devices attached to a computer, management becomes a crucial issue. It therefore becomes imperative to create one large logical storage which consolidates the different physical storage devices. This effectively means that a user would look at the storage system as a single logical device instead of multiple ones.

This is called virtualization. Many organizations are considering storage virtualization as an important mechanism to trim costs. Through storage visualization, storage devices from different vendors can be consolidated into a virtual storage pool. This gives customers the ability to choose storage hardware independent of the functionality that they need from it and to change and upgrade it without disrupting existing data. This may seem like a simple problem but on ground hardware sourcing from different vendors and their consolidation can be a source of major headache. In this context virtualization assumes importance.

The technologies that would play a pivotal role in the future are adoption of Information Lifecycle management (ILM) by enterprises and creation of virtualized infrastructure. The ultimate goal for most companies would be to create a service oriented Architecture infrastructure. Disc visualization hides physical complexity from the user and delivers better performance. Virtualization results in a high rate of utilization, automation, better control and is simple to operate.

Large enterprises find virtualization not only useful but also unavoidable. The geographical spread of some organizations itself is a major reason for selecting different vendors for their numerous locations. Consolidation therefore is a major issue.

Virtualization insulates the users from the complexities of the actual storage mechanism. The flexibly and expandability provided by virtualization when there is tremendous pressure on operation due to stringent SLA's, is unparalleled. To cope with ever-expanding data volumes, increased pressure due to SLA and compliance, there is a need for scalable systems that enable massive consolidation. San switches that scale all the way up to 500 ports in a single chassis and arrays that scale up to hundreds of terabytes together with the intelligence are some trends for the future. The key to intelligence in storage networks is that of centrally hosted third party intelligent fabric applications for improved operational efficiencies, storage utilization and data mobility. Due to the reasons stated above, virtualization has become extremely popular, especially with organizations which have an insatiable need for data storage and devices.

The service level agreements are driving vendors to offer better virtualization solutions which are intelligent with built in expert knowledge. The future of virtualization is without doubt a must for large computer networks. What is essential is for intelligent devices which would automatically expand resources in accordance with the needs of the systems. Consolidation has to lead to better efficiencies and ultimately to lower cost of acquisition and maintenance.

Virtualization can also be viewed from the software applications point of view. In this context , virtualization means operation of applications irrespective of the system software. This has many advantages the primary one being that no specific hardware profiles may need to be established for operating the virtual application. Copyright (c) 2007 Dean Barnard.

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