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FCW : May 30, 2014
With networks and servers becom- ing software de ned, it was probably only a matter of time before storage followed suit. Sure enough, a number of vendors are now offering software-de ned stor- age products. Data center storage stal- warts such as EMC and NetApp have staked their claims. A year ago, EMC introduced ViPR, which it describes as a software-de ned storage platform. Meanwhile, NetApp has constructed its software-de ned storage approach on top of existing products. For exam- ple, the company s FAS8000 storage systems, unveiled in February, can be purchased with an optional software component that the company says paves the way for software-de ned storage. Other vendors marketing software- de ned storage include Coraid, Nuta- nix and VMware. Yet those moves have generated little response from federal agencies, and the technology appears to have a long way to go before it becomes a staple of gov- ernment storage. A 2013 NetApp study, undertaken by Market Connections, found that a third of the government agencies and integrators surveyed were not familiar with software-de ned stor- age. At the other end of the awareness spectrum, only 7 percent of respondents said they were very familiar with the technology. Even large consumers of storage are not rushing to adopt software- de ned products. The National Cen- ter for Supercomputing Applications, for example, operates a mass storage system at its National Petascale Com- puting Facility, but an NCSA spokes- woman said the center has not tried software-de ned storage. The technology can help organiza- tions optimize their storage environ- ments and cut costs, so even though the technology hasn t caught on yet in government, it could eventu- ally capture the attention of budget- constrained federal IT managers. Why it matters Industry executives say software- de ned storage can improve an agen- cy s use of existing storage assets so that fewer new devices need to be pur- chased. That s a notable concern given ongoing ef ciency programs such as the Federal Data Center Consolidation Ini- tiative, now part of the Of ce of Man- agement and Budget s PortfolioStat. Agencies are judged on the num- ber of data centers they continue to operate and their track record in clos- ing redundant facilities. A March 2013 OMB memo states that agencies will be "measured by the extent to which their core data centers are optimized for total cost of ownership." In addition, the Federal IT Acqui- sition Reform Act (FITARA), which cleared the House in February, address- es data center optimization by calling for an initiative to boost the "ef ciency of federal data centers." "Those [data centers] that don t get closed down get modernized," said Dave Gwyn, a vice president in Nutanix s fed- eral division. If FITARA becomes law, data cen- ter managers will need to consider data center footprints, power consumption and labor costs, Gwyn added. Agencies seeking to wring additional ef ciencies out of their data centers will nd the biggest opportunities in storage, which represents the lion s share of IT infra- structure spending. "Storage is going to be where a lot of the answers are found," Gwyn said. "I think software-de ned storage is going to have a very big play in the federal government in the coming months and years." In addition, agencies that offer stor- age to others under shared services arrangements could nd that software- de ned storage makes it easier to provi- sion resources. Agencies of all sizes can take advan- tage of software-de ned storage, said Jeff Baxter, principal architect for the U.S. public sector at NetApp, but serv- ice providers with multiple tenants will get the most immediate and obvi- ous bene ts. Software-de ned storage aims for ease of management BY JOHN MOORE The successor to storage virtualization remains largely untested by agencies, but industry experts say the bene ts will change that soon enough 28 May 30, 2014 FCW.COM ExecTe c h
May 15, 2014
June 30, 2014