IT Industry Trends – 2016 State of Storage in Virtualization Survey

1000+ CIOs, IT managers, and practitioners reveal what storage technologies they’re using to overcome their biggest virtualization challenges.

Flash Storage Virtualization Industry Trends Infographic

We teamed up with Scott D. Lowe (@otherscottlowe), VMware vExpert and co-founder of ActualTech Media, to get a better understanding of what industry trends are happening at the exciting intersection of storage and virtualization. Scott and his team polled 1000+ IT pros from across the world to gain insights into the kinds of challenges organizations face and how they’re leveraging solutions like flash storage, cloud storage, and VMware Virtual Volumes (VVols) to overcome those challenges.

Here are some of the findings in the 2016 State of Storage in Virtualization Report. How does your organization compare?

Virtualizing Mission-Critical & Big-Data Apps

No surprises here: More applications now run within a virtualized environment. Over 60% percent of respondents indicate the majority of their environment is virtualized, and 97% have at least some workloads virtualized.

Virtualization has become commonplace in the enterprise. Benefits include better resource utilization, lower power consumption, greater workload mobility, and easier system management. However, virtualization has a dark side: it puts increased pressure on organization’s storage infrastructure, which we see signs of later in the report.

When it comes to the application mix, 66% of respondents indicate that they have virtualized their Microsoft SQL Server workloads; 25% have virtualized Oracle; and 15% are running virtual systems to support big data/analytics needs.


Key Drivers to Deploy Flash

To remain competitive in today’s business environment, an organization must consistently deliver quick access to time-sensitive information. Advances in memory, CPU, bus, and network speeds have helped to facilitate this acceleration. However, in a virtualized environment, the storage infrastructure often becomes the I/O bottleneck. In fact, 53% of respondents indicate that they experience storage performance issues. Legacy storage arrays with spinning disk simply cannot deliver the high IOPS and low latency necessary for large virtual environments running tier-one workloads.

Flash storage helps IT organizations eliminate the storage I/O bottleneck and accelerate IT services. According to the research, here are the top reasons why organizations adopt flash-based storage for virtualization:

  • 72% of respondents in our survey deployed flash to improve application response times
  • Nearly 50% cited the desire to improve end-user satisfaction
  • 38% deployed flash to help facilitate the growth/expansion of their business

When flash is combined with data reduction capabilities, it can also help organizations consolidate workloads and reduce operating expenses. Flash, of course, consumes less power and generates less heat than hard disk. Inline compression and deduplication also help organizations store more data per drive.

Business Drivers Leading to Flash Storage Adoption

Hybrid Storage Is Still Sexy

Although all-flash storage captures the headlines, the hybrid array is still an attractive solution when it comes to modern virtualized environments.

  • 61% of respondents indicate that they operate a standalone hybrid storage array
  • 23% operate an all-flash storage array
  • 21% use server-side PCIe-based flash

Flash Adoption Hybrid All-Flash PCIe-based DIMM NVMe

Hybrid arrays combine the speed of flash with the affordable capacity of disk. Because it’s often difficult to predict data growth rates, the safest bet is to choose a hybrid array (or an all flash array that can accommodate disk/flash expansion). Of all respondents, 58% indicate that they experience some level of capacity issues.

Block vs. File Storage Protocols

The debate continues about which protocol is best for virtualized environments. Fibre Channel remains the protocol of choice, with 48%, while iSCSI comes in second at 42%. When it comes to file-level storage protocols, 36% of respondents indicate that they run their VMs over NFS.

Looking closer at the data, we find that the majority (56%) of organizations today are using more than one protocol in their data center. Very few storage solutions natively support both
block (SAN) and file-sharing (NAS) protocols. Lack of this functionality creates storage silos, which increases cost and complexity.

Multiple Storage Vendors Causes Complexity

Since most storage solutions on the market today come with compromises (hybrid or all-flash, compression or deduplication, block or file protocol support), it comes as no surprise that close to two-thirds of respondents say that they use multiple storage vendors for their primary data. This practice, again, causes unnecessary cost and complexity.

Storage Vendors Used for Primary Data

VVols Save the Day?

Introduced with VMware vSphere 6 back in March 2015, Virtual Volumes, or VVols, enable admins to provision, monitor, and manage storage at the VM level—regardless of which protocol they use. No doubt using VVols will greatly simplify storage provisioning and management for VMs. However, it’s clear that VMware and storage vendors have some education to do: 55% of respondents say that they know little about VVols. Only 5% consider themselves well versed in the VMware technology.

How does your organization compare?

Server virtualization has become commonplace in the enterprise. However, as more and more mission-critical applications are virtualized and data grows 20%-40% YoY, organizations continue to struggle to deliver the performance and capacity that their business units need. The findings in this survey suggest that organizations will benefit from a single storage platform that delivers high performance, affordable capacity, simple storage administration, and a rich feature set. Is that what you’re seeing as well? Let us know.


State of Storage in Virtualization Survey Results

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