If you get storage from just one vendor, however, the solution is simple.
"I say to the IT people I talk to, if you're a Hitachi Data Systems customer and you like working with them and you're stuck with them, just buy their virtualization to make life more manageable within Hitachi product," Taneja says.
Sifting through the hype
By most accounts, storage virtualization is a no-brainer. Who wouldn't want to manage multiple storage devices from a single console, and gain data mobility that makes disaster recovery a breeze?
Storage virtualization will be about as common as automatic transmissions in automobiles within a couple of years, ESG's Peters thinks. "There are certain technologies that are just smarter and better than people doing it manually," he says.
Even storage virtualization vendors, however, can admit there are instances when the technology isn't a fit.
Storage virtualization is not for everyone, says Kyle Fitze, an HP director of storage marketing. Virtualization actually adds a layer of complexity, he argues. You have to manage the individual storage devices, as well as the virtualization layer, he notes. Despite virtualization, you still have to perform such tasks as reconfiguring devices after adding physical disks to storage arrays, he adds.
As a general rule of thumb, the more complicated your storage environment, the more benefit virtualization brings.
"There's a complexity/benefit tradeoff," Fitze says. "If their current environment is difficult to manage and complex . . . adding a virtualization layer can simplify that complexity. If it's a small, efficiently managed environment without data-protection challenges, then virtualization just for virtualization's sake is probably not a good idea."