Research Report: The Virtual Public Sector

Storage virtualization holds pragmatic appeal

Although storage virtualization has been somewhat slower to catch on than server virtualization, it is making steady gains in government agencies.

A survey of federal, state and local information technology professionals found a growing number of agencies are either deploying virtualized storage or looking into it. All told, 36 percent of respondents said their agencies had fully implemented such technology, while 38 percent said their agencies were in the process of deploying it and 23 percent were investigating it.

The rate of adoption of storage virtualization lags slightly behind that of server virtualization, but just barely. The survey found that the proportion of virtual storage across all agencies is growing 13 percent annually, compared to 15 percent for virtual servers.

As with storage virtualization, stronger security is the biggest draw. Sixty-seven percent of respondents said that was a very important consideration at their agencies, with 29 percent saying it was somewhat important.

But the potential for better use of available resources is nearly as appealing, with 66 percent of respondents saying it was very important and 29 percent somewhat important. This result aligns with a March 2011 study by the Aberdeen Group, an IT market research and consulting firm.

By and large, the most significant driver in the growth of storage virtualization was the increasing demand for storage capacity, according to the report, titled “Storage Virtualization: Experience Begets Benefits.” Virtual storage can alleviate the pressure to buy more capacity by helping organizations make better use of what they already have.

That is the case in the Army’s Acquisition, Logistics and Technology Enterprise Systems and Services program, which serves several dozen Army and Defense Department organizations. During the past four years, the need for storage capacity in the program’s infrastructure has increased 800 percent, according to a recent request for information from the program about storage virtualization.

Army officials hope storage virtualization can help the program keep pace with the demand for capacity and meet the requirements of the service’s data center consolidation plan. They also hope the technology can improve management of the overall storage environment, which consists of multiple storage subsystems.

As it turns out, storage virtualization often improves manageability, primarily by simplifying the storage environment, according to the Aberdeen Group. For example, 38 percent of organizations adopting storage virtualization opt to integrate their network-attached storage and storage-area networks into a single virtualized architecture, its study found.

Analysts at Forrester Research, another IT market research and consulting firm, believe that storage virtualization eventually could drive the overall shape of the data center. They see the emergence of a storage-centric, rather than server-centric, approach to data center design, according to a March report titled ”Evaluate New Converged Infrastructures To Underpin The Software-Defined Data Center.”

“Storage-centric design makes a fundamental assumption: It is easier to insert standardized servers into an optimized storage environment than it is to build a really good [virtual machine]-optimized storage environment,” the report states.

About this Report

This report was commissioned by the Content Solutions unit, an independent editorial arm of 1105 Government Information Group. Specific topics are chosen in response to interest from the vendor community; however, sponsors are not guaranteed content contribution or review of content before publication. For more information about 1105 Government Information Group Content Solutions, please email us at [email protected]