File Virtualization Gaining Fans


The exponential growth of unstructured data is drawing more converts to file virtualization as a means to not only reduce the load on storage systems but to better manage it for competitive and regulatory purposes.


There are a number of hardware and software approaches to file virtualization, although they all enable the means to separate file data from a specific storage location. The file virtualization system will track down the appropriate data even if the user does not know where it's saved. Data migration, deduplication and other tasks are greatly simplified with the right virtualization system in place.


The latest research indicates that the need for robust management of file-based data is growing exponentially. The Taneja Group reports that nearly three quarters of surveyed enterprises say 60 percent or more of their total data is unstructured, with more than half saying unstructured data occupies 11 TB or more. At some enterprises, the growth rate for unstructured data is hitting 75 percent a year.


To the storage management industry, numbers like those represent one thing: opportunity. Firms that specialize in file virtualization are positioning themselves for significant growth in the coming year. Attune Systems, for example, is shoring up channel relationships for its Maestro File Manager system, bringing in new VARs to its partner program and beefing up deal registration and lead generation capabilities.


And Brocade just cut a deal with IBM to include the StorageX system as part of the System Storage N series, where it will be known as the Virtual File Manager. The system brings in the ability to virtualize heterogeneous files -- say, Windows, UNIX and Linux -- and provide singular access across the entire enterprise.


While management of structured data remains a constant challenge, it's the unstructured data that can really turn into a beast if left unchallenged. File virtualization offers the best bet so far in putting the beast back into its cage.