Storage virtualization abstracts storage space in physical hardware to software-defined storage which can be accessed from any device with an end-user interface. It allows multiple storage devices appear as a single volume, and helps streamline data management.
Virtualization can be achieved in two ways: host based or network-based. Host-based virtualization (typically used in HCI systems and cloud storage) uses software to direct traffic. The host, or hyper-converged systems consisting of multiple hosts, provide virtual drives to guest computers with any configuration, regardless of whether they are virtual machines in enterprise environments, PCs that access server files, or servers that access data via cloud. The host employs software that converts the logical addresses of every block of physical disk data into an offset within a logical drive.
Network-based virtualization is an alternative approach, shifting the complexity of a storage controller on an additional layer over virtualization hardware. This often requires additional components, like a network switch, in order to take on the additional I/O load. However, it can reduce costs while improving performance.
The layer above virtualization hardware allows backup and recovery to be carried out without the virtualization affecting it. It can also make it easier for IT teams to remotely solve problems which can help improve the resolution speed. It also aids in scaling by eliminating the dependency between the location of files accessed on the basis of the file and the location they are kept on physical disks. This could be used to optimize storage, consolidate servers, and perform non-disruptive file migrations.