Software Defined Storage: Why Customers Should Care – Part 1 of 2

Feb 17, 2014 9:42:22 AM

Much marketing hype and heated discussions should be seen as excellent indicators for the fact that Software Defined Storage (SDS) is one of the hottest topics in today’s data center. Naturally, every vendor defines SDS based on their own product range, sometimes leaving customer out of the equation.

The following three questions are at the core of the SDS discussion:

  • How does enterprise storage have to adapt to keep up with modern IT requirements?
  • What is the impact of the shift toward SDS on existing technology, processes, organizational structures and culture?
  • How can customers get there?

Enterprise Management Associates (EMA) is about to launch a major research project shedding light on these three core challenges.

EMA believes that true SDS must exhibit the following core and “bonus” capabilities:

Key capabilities

  • Works with any or most hardware brands
  • Works with any or most types of storage: DAS, NAS, Flash, RAM, SAN
  • Establishes feature parity across hardware platforms
  • Offers centralized management of all corporate storage
  • Policy based provisioning
  • Intelligent tiering
  • Independent of server hypervisor
  • Comprehensive APIs (north and south bound)

Bonus capabilities

  • Performance boost
  • Self-service provisioning
  • Application or VM-centric QoS
  • Object storage support
  • Translates between different storage types, such as HDFS, File, Block, Object
  • Scale out
  • Supports cloud storage
  • Metering and chargeback
  • Analytics

Why this Matters to Customers

SDS is a logical layer that federates all existing and future storage of any age, brand or type. This means that storage features are purchased separately from the underlying hardware. It does not mean that hardware is entirely commoditized, as performance and reliability characteristics still matter. SDS simply enables customers to not pay multiple times for the same advanced storage features –snapshots, clones, DR, backup, thin provisioning, compression, deduplication etc. – and to more intelligently use expensive storage tiers such as Flash or RAM.

In my next post, I will provide a brief overview of the vendor landscape within the SDS arena.


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Torsten Volk

Written by Torsten Volk

With over 15 years of enterprise IT experience, including a two-and-a-half-year stint leading ASG Technologies' cloud business unit, Torsten returns to EMA to help end users and vendors leverage the opportunities presented by today's hybrid cloud and software-defined infrastructure environments in combination with advanced machine learning. Torsten specializes in topics that lead the way from hybrid cloud and the software-defined data center (SDDC) toward a business-defined concept of enterprise IT. Torsten spearheads research projects on hybrid cloud and machine learning combined with an application- and service-centric approach to hyperconverged infrastructure, capacity planning, intelligent workload placement, public cloud, open source frameworks, containers and hyperscale computing.

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