Virtualization has many benefits in the data center – some that aren’t necessarily about provisioning and deployment.

f5fridayThere are some things on your shopping list that you’d never purchase sight unseen or untested. Houses, cars, even furniture. So-called “big ticket” items that are generally expensive enough to be viewed as “investments” rather than purchases are rarely acquired without the customer physically checking them out.

Except in IT. When it comes to hardware-based solutions there’s often been the opportunity for what vendors call “evaluation units” but these are guarded by field and sales engineers as if they’re gold from Fort Knox. And often times, like cars and houses, the time in which you can evaluate them – if you’re lucky enough to get one – is very limited. That makes it difficult to really test out a solution and determine if it’s going to fit into your organization and align with your business goals.

Virtualization is changing that. While some view virtualization in light of its ability to enable cloud computing and highly dynamic architectures, there’s another side to virtualization that is just as valuable if not more so: evaluation and development. It’s been a struggle, for example, to encourage developers to take advantage of application delivery capabilities when they’re not allowed to actually test and play around with those capabilities in development. Virtual editions of application delivery controllers make it possible to make that happen – without the expense of acquisition and the associated administrative costs that go with it.

Similarly, it’s hard to convince someone of the benefits of storage virtualization without giving them the chance to actually try it out. It’s one thing to write a white paper or put up a web page with a lot of marketing-like speak about how great it is but as they say, the proof is in the pudding. In the implementation. Not every solution is a good fit for production-level virtualization. It’s just not – for performance or memory or reliability reasons. But for testing and evaluation purposes, it makes sense for just about every technology that fits in the data center. So it was, as Don put it, “very exciting” to see our “virtual edition” options grow with the addition of ARX VE, F5’s storage virtualization solution. It just makes sense that like finding “your chair” you test it out before you make a decision.

From automated tiering and shadow copying to unified governance, storage virtualization like ARX provides some tangible benefits to the organization that can address some of the issues associated with the massive growth of data in the enterprise. You may recall that storage tiering was recently identified at the Gartner Data Center conference as one of the “next big things” primarily due the continued growth of data: 

twitterbird#GartnerDC Major IT Trend #2 is: 'Big Data - The Elephant in the Room'. Growth 800% over next 5 years - w/80% unstructured. Tiering critical

@ZimmerHDS Harry Zimmer

Virtualization gives us at F5 the opportunity to give you a chance to test drive a solution in ARX VE that is addressing that critical need. Don, who was won over to the side of “storage virtualization is awesome” only after he actually tried it out himself, has more details on our latest addition to our growing stable of virtualized offerings.

INTRODUCING ARX VE

don_2010 As we here at F5 grow our stable of Virtual Edition products, we like to keep you abreast of the latest and greatest releases available to you. Today’s Virtual Edition discussion is about ARX VE Trial, a completely virtualized version of our ARX File/Directory Virtualization product. ARX has huge potential in helping you get NAS sprawl under control, but until now you had to either jump through hoops to get a vendor trial into place, or pay for the product before you fully understood how it worked in your environment. Not any more. ARX VE Trial is free to download and license, includes limited support, and is fully functional for testing purposes.

If you have VMWare ESX 4.0 update 2 or VMWare ESX 4.1, then you can download and install the trial for free. There’s no time limit on how long the system can run, but there is a time limit on the number of NAS devices it can manage and the number of shares it can export. It is plenty adequate for the testing you’ll want to do to see how it performs though.

Now you can see what heterogeneous tiering of NAS devices can do for you, you can test out shadow copying for replication and moving users’ data stores without touching the desktop. You can see how easy managing access control is when everything is presented as a single massive file system. And you can do all of this (and more) for free.

As NAS-based storage architectures have grown, management costs have increased simply due to the amount of disk and number of arrays/shares/whatever under management. This is your chance to push those costs back in the other direction. Or at least your chance to find out if ARX will help in your specific environment without having to pay up-front or work through a long process to get a test box.

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You can get your copy of ARX VE (or Firepass VE or LTM VE) at our trial download site


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