In a recent interview discussing the acquisition of Akorri by NetApp, virtualization expert Len Rosenthal has a chance to sound off about the importance of storage in the virtual market. While the original intent of the interview had been to focus on the acquisition and business side of the discussion, a second conversation emerged in which Rosenthal discussed the need for agile and complete virtual storage in order to allow for a VPS environment that functions as advertised.
Virtual storage faces a number of challenges that were not present in traditional physical servers. While physical servers had to cope with absolute storage requirements and had a standard storage framework, this same type of storage method is cumbersome at best for a virtualized environment. A storage area network (SAN) solution is far more effective in a virtual environment, so long as it can properly deal with multiple instances of both applications and O/Ss on a single virtualized server.
The need for a whole storage solution in virtualized servers goes beyond simple data management. With a physical server, accessing data was as simple as a request being sent, the data being found and the information returned from a locally placed machine. In a virtual environment, the physical server housing could be located hundreds of miles from the requesting machine and a request for stored information must first be sent, the information retrieved and then the data sent back, all of which can use up precious time depending on connection latency and the ability of the VPS to quickly access stored data. Agile and complete SAN systems have been shown to dramatically increase server performance, which means that no matter the provider and no matter the number of instance servers run, storage is still king.