Software-defined storage: benefits and migration best practices

1Executive Summary

Organizations are struggling with the ever-growing demands of data storage, which in turn are driven by enormous growth in the amount of data created, the adoption of new technologies such as big data analytics, and the legislative requirements of compliance. Attempting to meet the demands of data growth, organizations are turning to new storage technologies, such as large physical storage arrays, cloud services, and archival solutions. Yet all of those solutions introduce additional concerns, management overhead, and costs.

Innovation in storage technology doesn’t end with bigger drives and cloud solutions; other technologies are poised to solve the complexities of data storage and its rapid growth, with software-defined storage (SDS) showing the most promise. SDS solutions could radically change the enterprise storage market. Significant research by leading vendors has indicated that the software-defined storage market is expected to be worth at least $5 billion by 2018.

The tangible benefits offered by SDS, which are realized almost immediately, are fueling this growth. As with other software-defined solutions, SDS enables network operators to better manage the storage, flow, and access to the incredible amounts of data generated by rich media, big data, business analytics, and wireless device adoption. SDS brings those benefits to bear by leveraging virtualization technology that abstracts data from the storage hardware, creating a virtual representation of the physical storage that eases the reconfiguration of resources and allows the pooling of dissimilar storage systems into a cohesive centrally managed representation of all storage resources available, regardless of the underlying hardware technology, physical location, and storage platforms in use.

With SDS, organizations are able to call on available resources and re-provision subsystems on the fly, creating a paradigm-shifting experience around storage ideologies. That has created excitement in the storage industry, driven some of the biggest tech names in the industry to buy startups focused on SDS, and led private equity and venture capital investors to funnel dollars to new players in this nascent arena.

While many look at SDS as the next big thing, the technology has its roots in the evolution of the cloud, where virtualization has become a key component for everything from server provisioning to networking to data center design. With that in mind, it becomes easy to understand why storage virtualization has become the next logical step for those interested in maximizing the value of their storage subsystems as well as adopting cloud ideologies and next-generation technologies.

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Frank Ohlhorst

Analyst Ohlhorst.net

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