Software-defined storage; Nurturing storage innovation with software

One of the origin stories of the personal computing revolution was how Bill Gates saw that the future lay in software while IBM still fixated on hardware. The result was the highly lucrative coupling of Microsoft’s operating system with personal computers. Gate’s insight, whether brilliant or just fortuitous, applies today to storage. Here’s a shout-out to software-defined storage, a paradigm of innovation.

Software-defined storage (SDS) presented a new approach to building and managing enterprise storage. SDS separates storage resources from the underlying hardware platforms. Software controls storage functionality, delivering remarkable control, agility, and economy.

SDS offers nearly limitless scalability. SANs, which require dedicated and costly hardware, are not as scalable as SDS because their expansion is limited to a finite number of controllers. SDS is the strategy for storing burgeoning volumes of data, particularly unstructured data.

Another advantage to decoupling the software from the hardware is both can be upgraded independently. It’s easier and less expensive to deploy new capabilities like encryption, data deduplication, compression, automation, and other innovations with software upgrades than hardware replacements. Moreover, because you can use commodity hardware, you’re able to avoid vendor lock-in.

SDS allows precise control of the storage environment. It provides centralized management according to policies, helping to meet service level agreements and improve customer satisfaction.

SDS solutions can support block, file, or object storage, or a combination of these protocols. While software is the star of the show, don’t neglect the hardware, however. Don’t select servers merely because they’re inexpensive to buy. Such systems can be costly to own in the long run because they may lack adequate throughput, reliability, or are unable to survive the failure of one or more disks. Because hardware can be recycled with SDS, opt for robust systems with long lifecycles. The underlying hardware should support the software, and your storage environment, cost-efficiently.