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Management of the SAN Fabric Virtualization Process
The process of simplifying the management of a SAN by isolating physical descriptions of storage, server, and network functionality -- and replacing these descriptions with logical designators -- is known as fabric virtualization. For example, in a virtualized SAN, system administrators will be able to provision storage for use by a server or a cluster of servers without needing to know which storage device is being utilized or exactly what network paths are being used. Policies for backup and restore and other data protection/data movement procedures will also be applied automatically in a virtualized SAN. This means that SAN virtualization products will need to reach the enterprise market environment in three stages:
- Assisted management.
- Automatic provisioning.
SAN virtualization and storage device virtualization products are expected by the storage industry to evolve concurrently and independently. This is because SANs perform different functions in the IT infrastructure. For example, the functionality expected from network and switch providers is the automated discovery of new network nodes and policy-based routing of data through the network switch. In contrast, the virtualization of logic units, volumes, and storage addresses will form new products and functions offered by storage device providers.
The technology substrate upon which ease-of-use functionality will be delivered is provided by the virtualization of storage devices and networks. The value proposition to users will be that simpler, self-managing SANs will deliver the aforementioned benefits of consolidation:
- Efficient mechanisms to ensure business continuity planning,
- Flexibility in meeting enterprise storage needs,
- Higher utilization of enterprise-wide business integration of storage resources, and
- Lower Total Cost of Ownership (TCO).
The preceding benefits will be tightly integrated so that the network can automatically respond to changes in business requirements by making needed adjustments to the network and storage configurations in real time. In other words, a consolidated SAN provides direct business benefits.