Virtualisation of storage is 'tepid', says analyst

It may be the hot topic of the past few years, but virtualisation of storage is still not being taken up by the majority of companies, an analyst has said.

Just 17 per cent of companies have virtualised their storage systems in some way, Forrester Research analyst Andrew Reichman told attendees of Compellent's C-Drive customer conference in Minneapolis. Another nine per cent are in the process of rolling out the technology, while 28 per cent are interested in the idea.

"Virtualisation of storage is tepid," Reichman said. "I would characterise it as tepid."

Reichman said that virtualisation is still seen as a little bit leading edge for some companies, and that they're waiting for others to adopt the technology first. "Any change is tough - storage is probably the most conservative part of data centres."

"People don't want to take the chance on disrupting their data," he said, adding companies are "kicking the tires but not really buying it."

And virtualisation of storage does bring risks, he noted. While it as seen as a technology to simplify management, Reichman said it adds a different layer of complexity. And, it can be difficult to remove once implemented.

He also said storage virtualisation introduces performance, scalability and resiliency issues - not helped by industry disagreement on the optimal architecture for such systems.

But with energy costs rising and budgets squeezed by a rough economy, virtualisation has a lot to offer, he explained.

While reducing costs is the main reason most companies virtualise their storage, Reichman said a large number of others use it to improve data protection and simplify management.

He suggested it could also enable other cost-saving technologies to be used, such as tiered storage or thin provisioning.