If big data has taught us one thing, it is this: you can never have too much storage space, which is why so much time and thought goes into developing a better solution for this problem. This is where block storage and virtual hard drives come into play.
As Chuck Thier, a software developer with Rackspace, explains: “You can purchase virtual hard drives in the cloud. Those hard drives are then usable by any of your next-gen cloud servers.”
Virtual hard drives work like any other hard drive device, according to Thier. Virtual hard drives can be formatted to any type of file system you use and you can use them just as you would any other hard drive. The difference is that because virtual hard drives exist in the cloud space, backing up data is easy.
According to SearchVirtualDesktop, there are two types of virtual hard drives: fixed-size and dynamically expanding. “Both types have a maximum size value that specifies how large the disk will appear to virtual machines,” the site reported. “However, fixed-size VHDs will automatically take up the specified amount of physical disk space on the host computer’s file system, whereas dynamically expanding disks will allocate space only as needed.”
Why turn to a virtual hard drive? There are several reasons. Below are some of them parsed into bullet points:
• Backups, as mentioned earlier, are easy, but you can also turn to virtual hard drives to restore data that may have been corrupted by a virus or accidentally deleted.
• Deployment is easy and can be done in a standardized, “pre-built” configuration.
• The ability to isolate multiple users, which increases the level of security.
• The ability to upgrade storage without downtime.
• The ability to test software on different operating systems without hassles
• The virtual hard drive can also, crucially, save you money.
As Thier pointed out, in the past, if you ran out of space on your cloud hard drive, you had to purchase a whole new cloud server. He said, “While this new instance would include a bigger hard drive, it would also include extra memory and CPU power that you might not need, but would have to pay for to get that extra hard drive space.” With the virtual hard drive option, and opportunities like Rackspace’s Cloud Block Storage, you are able to add on as needed.
Virtual hard drives are a vital technology within the block storage concept. Block storage is considered one of the hottest storage trends in 2013, according to CRN. For example, CRN stated, “Cloud Block Storage provides access to multiple volumes of storage based on either hard drive or SSDs separate from cloud-based computer resources.”
As more companies turn to the cloud for its computing and storage needs, the amount of data to be stored will only increase. In turn, virtual hard drives and options like block storage will be more in demand.
Sue Poremba is a freelance writer focusing primarily on security and technology issues and occasionally blogs for cloud service provider Rackspace Hosting.