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FCW : May 30, 2014
The fundamentals Software-defined storage builds on the legacy of storage virtualization, which has been around for at least a decade. Federal customers include the military s Tricare health system, which used storage virtualization to facilitate a regional consolidation project in 2005. The idea was --- and is --- to create a single pool of logical storage from a number of devices. IT administrators can then provision that pool of storage as needed, thereby improving the use of storage arrays and making the whole affair easier to manage. Baxter said NetApp has been offering storage virtual- ization for years --- the com- pany s V-Series storage virtu- alization hardware debuted in 2003. EMC s Invista storage virtualization product dates from the same time. So what has changed? Much of the difference between the rst wave of storage virtualiza- tion and software-de ned stor- age can be found in the storage controller. A controller serves as the brains of a storage array by managing communications between storage devices and external servers and networks. It also handles services such as replication. Virtualized storage pools resources from multiple arrays and vendors behind a physical storage controller. Software-de ned storage goes a step further by virtualizing the controller as well. Baxter said the technology makes it possible to slice each physical storage controller into multiple "storage virtual machines." In addition, multiple physical con- trollers can be pooled into one storage virtual machine. With that approach, an organization seeking storage resources for a new work- load can set up a storage vir- tual machine instead of buy- ing a new array, Baxter said. Similarly, an agency running a multi-tenant private cloud environment can provision a virtual machine for each tenant rather than acquiring separate pieces of hardware. "Storage virtual machines can be created to exactly match the service-level objec- tives of a given customer or workload," Baxter said. "It makes it a lot easier to man- age and...provision." In March, Nutanix announced that it had been granted a patent for a storage architecture featuring control- ler virtual machines that run on a system of distributed servers. The virtual machines operate on each server and aggregate local resources to deliver a pool of storage. EMC s ViPR software-de ned storage platform, meanwhile, includes ViPR Controllers, which the company said vir- tualize the underlying storage infrastructure. Another difference in the current iteration of storage virtualization has to do with the nature of the physical resources. In the past, virtu- alization focused on purpose- built storage hardware. Nuta- nix, in contrast, focuses on generic hardware. "We are talking about de- vices that are truly commodity hardware," Gwyn said. Nutanix software uses vir- tualization to make a standard server function as a storage device. Each server acts as both May 30, 2014 FCW.COM 29 Top bene ts of software-de ned storage Market Connections, on behalf of NetApp, recently surveyed of 250 IT decision- makers and in uencers, 40 percent of whom work at federal agencies, 40 percent at state and local agencies and 20 percent at systems integrators. Those who were familiar with software-de ned storage cited the following bene ts of the technology: 35% Reduced storage costs 35% No disruption of operations 31% Meeting backup recovery goals 30% Increased scalability 29% Implementing new functionality faster 28% Ease of expansion potential % Reduced data management costs 27% Eliminating downtime
May 15, 2014
June 30, 2014