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FCW : May 30, 2014
30 May 30, 2014 FCW.COM a storage and computing node in Nuta- nix s converged infrastructure approach. George Symons, CEO of Gridstore, said the technology also aims to sepa- rate storage from data services such as replication and compression. The goal is to de ne storage services, poli- cies and performance characteristics for individual virtual machines, said Symons, whose company provides software-de ned storage for virtual- ized environments. The hurdles The most obvious obstacles to broader adoption of software-de ned storage are the lack of knowledge about the technology and limited interest among potential federal customers. "I believe there is a moderate to low interest in software-de ned storage," said Milton Lin, solutions architect at Force 3. "It is in its 1.0, 1.1 or early- adoption phase." Innovation fatigue might also play a role. Todd Cowles, director of the cloud infrastructure practice at Iron Bow Technologies, cited the consump- tion gap that occurs when IT compa- nies launch technologies faster than organizations can adopt them. He said customers need to fully digest the tech- nologies they already have before they look at something new. "I have not seen a tremendous amount of interest...in the next genera- tion of products," Cowles said. Chris Howard, a vice president in Nutanix s federal division, said he believes software-de ned storage is a compelling technology, but he acknowl- edged that customers might see other bene ts as more important, such as the speed of deployment and the abil- ity to combine servers and storage in a single box. "We do talk a lot about software- de ned storage, but I m not sure that is the most compelling thing to the cus- tomers," Howard said. Alan Marett, a contractor working as the server network team leader at the Army s Program Executive Of ce for Aviation, cited the ability to save rack space as among the top bene ts of Nuta- nix s converged storage and software appliances. PEO Aviation uses Nuta- nix gear to support its virtual desktop infrastructure project. Originally, of - cials thought they would need an entire rack of servers and storage to meet their requirements. But the Nutanix applianc- es can handle PEO Aviation s workload using only 4U of rack space. "We saw some rack requirements go down," Marett added. Over time, as more agencies pursue software-de ned storage, they might face other obstacles. For instance, they must take care not to mix management activities at different levels. Storage arrays traditionally are overseen at the array level via a management interface. Software-de ned storage, however, cre- ates a higher level of management, Lin said. Synchronization issues, among other problems, could arise if an agen- cy managed the same devices at both the array and software-de ned storage levels, he added. "There will always be some issues with any new technology, and software- de ned storage will not be immune," Lin said. ■ Is software-de ned storage worth considering, or is it just a blip on the radar screen? Here are three points to consider: • Knowledge. It might pay off later to learn about the tech- nology now, even if adoption isn't likely in the near term. Although a NetApp study suggests that many govern- ment IT managers remain in the dark about the technology, market researcher IDC believes software-de ned storage will slowly but surely become a dominant component of all data centers. • Scope. Solutions come in dif- ferent forms and range in scope from localized, single-vendor deployments to wide-ranging multi-vendor initiatives. At the local level, an organization could turn a few commodity servers into storage devices that support a particular work- load. Software-de ned storage can also virtualize storage from multiple vendors, but those deployments require more planning to avoid device- management con icts. • Timing. Software-de ned storage represents a signi - cant change in management, so one option for deployment is to introduce the technology during a storage upgrade or replacement initiative. "A refresh cycle is actually perfect, " said Milton Lin, solu- tions architect at Force 3. "Your existing array is end of life or end of support, so you put in a new array with software- de ned storage and then try to migrate to that. " Ideally, a period of testing would come before the migra- tion, he added. --- John Moore Next steps for software-de ned storage ExecTe c h
May 15, 2014
June 30, 2014