Software-Defined Storage


Software-defined storage (SDS) is a technology that is extensively used in data storage management. This technology separates the functions responsible for protecting data, provisioning capacity, and controlling data placement intentionally from the physical hardware on which data is stored. Earlier, Anand Jayapalan had spoken about how SDS allows storage systems to be expanded, upgraded and replaced easily and seamlessly uprooting familiar operational procedures or trying to discard valuable software investments.

When comparing contemporary SDS principles with traditional hardware-bound designs, one would be able to observe that while different makes and models perform similar storage functions, they do so in distinct ways, leading to mutual incompatibility. These incompatibilities may turn minor hardware refreshes into major operational overhauls, which get delayed by complex data migrations, ultimately leading to costly storage silos.

In their most versatile form, software-defined storage solutions tend to hire proprietary hardware idiosyncrasies through a layer of virtualization software. In contrast to hypervisors that make a single server appear to be several virtual machines, SDS is renowned for combining varied storage devices into centrally managed pools. In many cases, the overall scope of an SDS product can be confined to a small selection of hardware, as well as a limited list of functions. Hence, it is important to do the research and find SDS solutions that support a variety of hardware choices and a rich set of data services.

There are numerous storage related challenges that modern businesses have to deal with, including:

  • High costs
  • Latency issues
  • Managing silos
  • Storage downtime
  • Complex migrations
  • Exponential data growth

Storage virtualization through software-defined storage can help manage many of these pain points. Earlier, Anand Jayapalan had discussed that SDS can be used by companies across industries, for multiple use cases.

A key motivation for leading companies transitioning to an SDS model is the capability to centralize and oversee all current storage resources from a single location, alongside providing a range of diverse features and functions. SDS typically acts as a software controller that visualizes and administers the physical storage assets. It would consolidate the entire storage capacity into “virtual pools” and allow for thin provisioning for optimal capacity utilization. After establishing the virtual pool, “virtual disks” are generated within the pool and presented to the host servers as raw LUNs for data storage purposes.

No matter the storage hardware one does own, the software is the brain and layer of intelligence that is responsible for determining the benefits, services, features and functions one would be able to offer for optimizing the storage system for hosts, applications, and end users. Business owners facing SAN/NAS challenges, should especially consider exploring software-defined storage solutions. Relying on traditional storage methods and constantly adding hardware to address capacity issues is no longer sustainable for many types of organizations. In the digital centric, competitive landscape, it has become crucial to upgrade the storage architecture and maximize the investments. The more a SDS solution can eliminate dependency on specific devices and be adjusted for diverse deployment models, the better equipped a company will be to embrace new hardware advancements from distinctive suppliers.

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