Both virtual storage appliances or VSAs and traditional physical appliance deployment solutions can offer several advantages. While virtualization may be ideal in certain situations, the same is true for dedicated hardware.
VSAs are attractive,as they are largely based on the separation of the high-value I/O software stack from the commodity hardware that underlies them. This software/hardware decoupling enables new levels of deployment flexibility for end-users.
The advantage of cloud storage VSAs is that they consume near-zero dedicated rack and floor space. The bulk of the storage may reside in an external cloud provider, moving users closer to the near-zero footprint ideal.
These application deployment solutions also offer fastest time to proof-of-concept (POC) for a new data storage system. Even though the POC can start in minutes once the hardware is in place, getting to that point can cost weeks of lead time. Downloading a virtual appliance in scenarios where it makes sense and installing it in minutes accelerates the trial process dramatically, reducing risk and minimizing time lost waiting.
With a virtual storage appliance, you also get the opportunity to deploy physical platforms in the size that business requirements dictate. Ability to use commodity or best-of-breed data storage devices means any customer can achieve the desired ratio of price, performance and availability. In addition, VSAs operate on free hypervisor platforms such as VMware ESXi or Citrix XenServer, minimizing the need for investment in additional hypervisor licenses.
Further, VSAs allow for software investment protection by decoupling the storage software from the hardware that becomes obsolete after a few years. Preserving the existing software stack reduces the downtime and risk of the data storage upgrade and replacement cycle. When a VSA is coupled with the nearly infinite storage capacity offered by cloud providers, it also alleviates the concern of ever running out of capacity, one of the most common reasons for upgrade.