Storage virtualisation is gaining traction in larger South African businesses but in the small to medium size business (SMB) space only the early technology adopters are starting to deploy it, says Wernher Mulder, solutions architect at Xiotech Africa.

Storage virtualisation is increasingly becoming a concern for corporate South Africa as companies employ it to extract more benefit from tiered storage and virtual server environments.
Virtualised storage removes the complexities of management, makes it more accessible, and more user friendly for administrators. It integrates seamlessly into the virtualised server environment and works hand-in-hand to give organisations the infrastructure flexibility they need to quickly change processes or operations according to varying market conditions or business goals.
Storage virtualisation offers IT employees a means to manage the storage environment more easily, gain rapid insight into the type, size and location of physical storage devices, and automate many of the repetitive tasks associated with storage management. It also reduces the number of resources required to administer the storage environment since fewer people are needed to maintain it, it improves storage system performance which means fewer drives are required, and it reduces the need for additional storage servers that has a knock-on impact on software administration and licence fees.
A key reason fewer resources are needed to maintain a virtualised storage environment is that it eliminates the need to have resources available for integrating storage with the multiple operating systems that typically proliferate in larger businesses. Since it integrates virtualised storage with virtualised servers, it largely removes the need to integrate applications across operating systems, which can be a demanding circumstance for even the most hardened of IT shops.
Virtualised storage also delivers better availability and reduces risk by eliminating single points of failure.
Those are the chief reasons why large and some small-to-medium size businesses are deploying virtualised storage environments in South Africa today. Those small to medium-sized businesses that are adopting it generally, at the very minimum, already have some form of physical shared storage infrastructure such as network attached storage (NAS) or a storage area network (SAN). Those technologies are financially accessible to increasingly smaller organisations but not all companies in that space have realised the skills resources and seen the business advantages to deploying the technology.
Storage can be virtualised without NAS and SAN, but the primary benefits of high availability and automatic failover that virtualised storage offer, directly linked to reduced risk, can only really be found where NAS or SAN and virtual server environments are already in place.