The storage platforms that support virtualised servers need to be a priority if firms are to go get the full benefits of virtualisation, according to analyst house Forrester.

The analyst house said 91 percent of respondents to a recent survey are currently using virtual server technology for production workloads, compared with 78 percent last year.

According to Forrester analyst Andrew Reichman, this increase is representative of the mature server virtualisation market, as infrastructure and operations teams use server virtualisation for more production applications, rather than just test-and-development uses.

But he said the management of storage for server virtualisation remains "difficult". When asked to rank their top storage challenges in managing a virtual server environment, 53 percent of respondents pointed to effective capacity management, followed by controlling costs with 39 percent.

In the latest Forrester "Storage Choices For Virtual Server Environments" report, Reichman said: "Storage remains a complicated aspect of virtual server deployments, with numerous technology and vendor choices to make. It’s important to remember that the benefits of server virtualisation are dependent on each element of infrastructure that goes into the environment.

"The trend is towards consolidation and simplification and a shift from 'just making it work' to streamlining operations."

He said infrastructure and operations professionals should re-evaluate vendor choices, single-source when possible, and explore alternative storage protocols - like NFS - as "cheaper, more efficient alternatives to Fibre Channel".

The Forrester report said EMC leads the pack for storage in the virtualisation market, helped by its ownership of server virtualisation market leader VMWare, but 38 percent of respondents are now using NetApp for their virtual server storage needs, which is up from 24 percent last year.

Fibre Channel (FC) is still the leader of the storage protocol pack, with 76 percent of Forrester respondents saying they use FC to connect virtualisation hosts to networked storage. However, 37 percent say they now use NFS (Network File System), up from 18 percent two years ago.

Forrester said iSCSI has "stayed steady", allowing NFS to pull ahead as the clear number two storage selection. It expects NFS adoption for application networking, and especially virtual servers, to continue to increase over the next several years.