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A storage hypervisor is a supervisory program that manages multiple pools of consolidated storage as virtual resources. It treats all the storage hardware it manages as generic, even dissimilar and incompatible devices. Similar to a virtual server hypervisor, a storage hypervisor may run on a specific hardware platform or be hardware independent. It can run on a physical server, on a virtual machine, inside a hypervisor OS, or in a storage network. Also like a virtual server hypervisor, a storage hypervisor separates the direct link between physical and logical resources.

A storage hypervisor provides storage control and monitoring in a virtual management layer across storage resources. Businesses use storage hypervisors to improve the availability, speed and utilization of their storage devices. A storage hypervisor may also provide provisioning, data protection and replication services to multiple disk storage systems. Unlike embedded software or disk controller firmware designed for one type of storage system, a storage hypervisor can control SSD (solid state disks), SAN (storage area network), DAS (direct attached storage) and unified storage (SAN and NAS) systems. Bundling or integrating the underlying hardware devices is not required. Storage hypervisors can make hardware devices interchangeable, allowing IT to change or replace storage hardware without interrupting the virtual storage environment.

Storage hypervisors provide the technology upon which software defined storage (SDS) solutions such as SUSE Enterprise Storage can be built. Virtualized storage from XEN, KVM, Hyper-V, VMWare VShare and IBM z/VM hypervisors can be managed by SUSE Enterprise Storage as one distributed storage system, regardless of the storage hardware.

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