Interesting news from Formation Data Systems, an enterprise storage vendor, around the launch of a new technology that should help IT departments eke out greater efficiencies from their existing storage assets. The new feature allows enterprises to recapture unused storage in their virtualized server environments.
Fetchingly called Virtual Storage Recapture (VSR) this technology allows Formation customers to extend their FormationOne deployments beyond standard software-defined storage implementations to be able to utilize storage capacity that is “stranded” within most virtual servers and hypervisor clusters.
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Using FormationOne VSR, customers can now provision unused capacity across any VM environment, including hyperconverged environments. FormationOne VSR delivers this reclaimed storage as a flexible shared-storage pool that can be used for a variety of applications, including backup, archive, file and object storage.
It's a pretty compelling proposition, and one that is very much in keeping with the current move towards driving infrastructure efficiency. All of a sudden, those tiny unused packets of storage resources can be pooled and leveraged. It's kind of analogous (in a vague way) to the human genome project, which readers will recall used spare computer processing time from the massive global population to deliver the raw computing power needed to sequence the human genome. In this case, however, eking out the maximum processing capacity isn't the desired end state—eking out the best possible economics is.
New storage out of thin air
VSR leverages the fact that FormationOne gives customers the ability to observe their storage across a vast, distributed architecture. FormationOne "discovers" the disk and connected storage array resources in all of the different physical hosts. Users can then create new pools of virtualized storage on top of the spare capacity that exists.
The new storage can be managed as part of the broader storage mix under FormationOne and can be presented as any data type (iSCSI, NFS or object). It's almost like FormationOne conjures up new storage from thin air—which is, after all, the promise virtualization brought to the world of compute.
“Customers with large VM deployments end up with potentially petabytes of capacity that essentially goes to waste. This new FormationOne VSR capability allows customers to maximize their hardware investments and fully utilize this stranded investment,” said Formation Data Systems CEO Mark Lewis. “Formation is here to provide every enterprise with a platform that delivers cloud storage capabilities that are an order of magnitude less costly than today’s traditional architectures, but don’t require sacrificing performance, availability or security.”
This makes sense and is an alluring proposition for enterprises. Of course, as with most things, the devil is in the detail, and organizations will need to assess the impacts of using FormationOne across their storage assets. Scooping up underutilized storage is a positive step, but if FormationOne comes with a performance, economic or complexity cost, it may well be a benefit that is illusory.
That said, the idea of recapturing storage makes eminent sense. It would be interesting to see this offered on top of traditional hardware vendors' offerings to really drive storage efficiency.
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