Server Storage

What is Software-defined storage and what can it do for my business?

Written by Louis Galland, Director of Enterprise Storage Solutions, Datatrend Technologies, Inc.

Over the past few months, Software-defined storage (SDS) has become a bit of an overused catch-all term in IT marketing, but the storage industry is primed for a more software-centric approach. Separating the marketing hype from the reality and understanding the potential benefits is of huge interest to the corporate community.

What problem is SDS trying to solve?

Today, enterprise users and data consumers are churning out vast amounts of documents and rich media (such as images, audio and video). Managing the volume and complexity of this information is a significant challenge. Digital data – both structured and unstructured – is everywhere and continues to grow at a stunning pace. Every day approximately 15 petabytes of new information is generated worldwide, and the total amount of digital data doubles every two years. At the same time, storage budgets are increasing by only one to five percent annually, thus the gap between data growth and storage spending is widening. This data growth explosion, as well as the nature and increasing uses of data are creating tremendous data storage challenges. Simply put, storage needs to be less expensive and less complex in order to keep up with this expanding demand.

At its most basic level, software-defined storage (SDS) is enterprise-class storage that uses standard hardware with all the important storage and management functions performed by intelligent software. SDS delivers automated, policy-driven, application-aware storage services through the orchestration of the underlining storage infrastructure in support of an overall storage defined environment. Standard hardware includes:

  • Disk Storage such as SAN, NAS and disk arrays or JBODs (just a bunch of disks)
  • Network devices such as switches and network interfaces
  • Servers for storage processing, management and administration

Additional characteristics of software defined storage can include:

  • Automated policy-driven administration for storage management functions, such as information life cycle management (ILM) and provisioning
  • Storage virtualization
  • Separate control and data planes to manage the storage infrastructure and data in the storage infrastructure, respectively
  • Massive scale-out architecture

What is the benefit of all this to my business?

In today’s environment, enterprises are recognizing many benefits with software-defined storage in their data centers. These benefits include: increased flexibility, automated management, cost efficiency, and limitless scalability.

A software-defined storage solution increases flexibility by enabling organizations to use non-proprietary standard hardware and, in many cases, leverage existing storage infrastructure as part of their enterprise storage solution. Additionally, organizations can achieve massive scale with a software defined storage solution by adding individual heterogeneous hardware components as needed to increase capacity and improve performance.

The automated, policy-driven management of software-defined storage solutions helps lower cost and improve operational efficiencies. Simply stated, these software-defined storage capabilities enable you to put the right data, in the right place, with the right performance, at the right price- automatically. In a July 2012 report, Gartner, Inc., found that the average acquisition cost per gigabyte of traditional multi-tiered storage systems range from $0.9/GB to $5/GB. By comparison, a software-defined storage solution’s average was only $0.4/GB.

To learn more about software-defined storage and how it can help your business save money, deliver more flexibility and improved performance, contact Louis Galland.