Tuesday March 6, 2018

Software Defined Storage is becoming the new normal.  This is a positive solution for both customers and vendors.  Storage infrastructure, except those specifically designed to niche tasks, will or should move to SDS.  It is the only way to be part of the hybrid-cloud world we live in.   If a vendor does not have flexible deployment and management options supporting the cloud, customers won’t consider the purchase strategic.

We also see orchestration and automation functionality moving at a fast pace as vendors can focus on the software rather than the underlying hardware.   Vendors can now focus on the software and API integrations, and customers gain the flexibility and agility that comes with SDS.

Make sure your vendor has a Software Defined Strategy where it makes sense. Whether you need File, Block, or Object storage services, your vendor must support those same services across industry standard servers, a cloud environment, and an integrated appliance form.  Look for common management and federated functions across deployment types. The idea is to keep the set of functionalities the same regardless of where or how the storage is deployed.   In its purest sense, you should be able to evaluate the functionality and suite of data services for a product regardless of where and on what it will live.

Examine the data security offered by the solution, especially as you deploy in the public cloud.   Basic features such as encrypted data need to be supported, or will be in a near term release of the software, since future functionality can be added without as much regard for the underlying hardware as in the past.    It also needs to have support for the APIs and Storage Frameworks that you may need depending on the type of storage and its use: Openstack, VMware(vCloud, vRealize), S3, RESTful and others.

Beware of limitations in scalability or functionality in a SDS version of a product that is typically delivered as an appliance.  The “SDS label” is required for marketing to add appeal to storage products, but often there are limitations in the SDS release of a product in terms of scalability and feature sets.    Some products still rely on specialized components in the hardware to make their products function such as ASICs, or hardware to offload work from the CPU like PCI compression cards. These products can be very good but will not have a Cloud play until they fully decouple the Software from the hardware. Some vendors have functionality, such as compression, that can use a specialized hardware item if present, and if not, rely on the CPU. This is a smart and flexible design and considered true SDS.  Some compromise is always required when specific hardware is not utilized.

Compute is really all about processing information, information is data, and data needs to be protected, managed and accessible from anywhere. It is the new natural resource. We need to be able to get at it ansd manage it from anywhere, SDS is helping to pave the way toward this goal.