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FCW : June 30, 2015
s the volume of data explodes, and looks set to continue to grow for a long time to come, finding solutions for how to manage and store that data has become a major headache for organizations. Simply adding capacity is no longer an answer, and the turn to cloud computing and the use of more dynamic applications is clearly outstripping the capabilities of current storage arrays. Software-defined storage (SDS) is one emerging answer. It provides the flexibility and automated management required in modern data center environments, while enabling IT managers to hold down costs by allowing them to use both existing systems and new commodity hardware to boost storage capacity. As a part of the “software-defined everything” universe it’s suffered a bit from the hype associated with that term, but it’s a real technology and management model that already has a substantial base. Researcher Market and Markets put the global 2014 market for SDS at $1.41 billion, and expects a yearly average growth of nearly 35 percent for a total of $6.22 billion in 2019. In the past it’s been confused with storage virtualization, with which it shares some characteristics. However, whereas storage virtualization is used simply to pool storage resources so that all of an organization’s various systems are made to appear as a single storage resource, SDS goes several steps further by adding automation and monitoring tools. Many of the services now done in the storage hardware itself—such as deduplication, replication, snapshots, encryption and thin provisioning— are in SDS, handled in software. The Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) says SDS products need four specific capabilities in order for them to be worthy of the name: • Automation: Simplified management that reduces the cost of maintaining the storage infrastructure. • Standard interfaces: APIs for the management, provisioning and maintenance of storage devices and data. • Virtualized data path: Block, file and object interfaces that support applications written to these interfaces. • Scalability: Seamless ability to scale the storage infrastructure without disruption to availability or performance. Ideally, the SNIA says, SDS solutions will allow applications and data producers to manage the treatment of their data by the storage infrastructure without storage administrators having to intervene, and will do it without any explicit provisioning operations and with automatic service level management. MANY DEFINITIONS, SAME MODEL As with any new technology model, there are many ideas of what constitutes an SDS solution, but all of them are built on the same three, reinforcing principles: They can abstract data from the hardware they are stored on; they can integrate all of the storage, computing and networking environments they operate in; and they can manage everything through software. The most popular definitions of an SDS solution all have the same two components: a control plane, and a data plane. The control plane understands those application-specific policies that govern such things as performance and availability, and then can migrate those down into the infrastructure without a storage administrator needing to get involved. Data planes usually contain both the familiar, decades-old external storage array technologies and the much newer software-based storage products. The state of storage in most enterprises today can best be described as a mixed bag. Typically, storage has been acquired and assembled Software-Defined Storage: An Answer to Growing Data Needs Sponsored Content EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 0515_FCW_VMware_final.indd 1 6/8/15 4:20 PM
June 15, 2015
July 15, 2015