Clarifying what cloud and virtualized data storage really mean

LOGAN G. HARBAUGH | July 1, 2018

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Let's clear up some misconceptions about storage. First, cloud storage isn't always hosted on a public service, such as AWS and Microsoft Azure. And second, virtualization and virtualized data storage don't just refer to virtual servers or desktop systems hosted on VMware ESX or Microsoft Hyper-V. These two misconceptions are related, because one true thing about cloud storage is that it is virtualized. To a certain extent, all storage is virtualized. Even the most basic block-based hardware system -- a single hard disk -- is mapped by the storage controller attached to the hard disk. This translates the physical hardware blocks, sectors and tracks on the hard drive's physical disks into a virtual set of blocks, sectors and tracks that the motherboard and storage controller use to communicate with the physical disk. Likewise, file-based storage creates an SMB or NFS volume containing files and metadata, even though the underlying file system might be different from the one presented by the storage system. Many file servers use more modern file systems, such as ZFS, instead of SMB or NFS, and then translate.

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