Understanding Software Defined Storage (SDS)

Software defined storage is an evolution of storage technology in cloud era. It is a deployment of storage technology without any dependencies on storage hardware. Software defined storage (SDS) eliminates all traditional aspect of storage such as managing storage policy, security, provisioning, upgrading and scaling of storage without the headache of hardware layer. Software defined storage (SDS) is completely software based product instead of hardware based product. A software defined storage must have the following characteristics.

Characteristics of SDS

  • Management of complete stack of storage using software
  • Automation-policy driven storage provisioning with SLA
  • Ability to run private, public or hybrid cloud platform
  • Creation of uses metric and billing in control panel
  • Logical storage services and capabilities eliminating dependence on the underlying physical storage systems
  • Creation of logical storage pool
  • Creation of logical tiering of storage volumes
  • Aggregate various physical storage into one or multiple logical pool
  • Storage virtualization
  • Thin provisioning of volume from logical pool of storage
  • Scale out storage architecture such as Microsoft Scale out File Servers
  • Virtual volumes (vVols), a proposal from VMware for a more transparent mapping between large volumes and the VM disk images within them
  • Parallel NFS (pNFS), a specific implementation which evolved within the NFS
  • OpenStack APIs for storage interaction which have been applied to open-source projects as well as to vendor products.
  • Independent of underlying storage hardware

A software defined storage must not have the following limitations.

  • Glorified hardware which juggle between network and disk e.g. Dell Compellent
  • Dependent systems between hardware and software e.g. Dell Compellent
  • High latency and low IOPS for production VMs
  • Active-passive management controller
  • Repetitive hardware and software maintenance
  • Administrative and management overhead
  • Cost of retaining hardware and software e.g. life cycle management
  • Factory defined limitation e.g. can’t do situation
  • Production downtime for maintenance work e.g. Dell Compellent maintenance

The following vendors provides various software defined storage in current market.

Software Only vendor

  • Atlantis Computing
  • DataCore Software
  • SANBOLIC
  • Nexenta
  • Maxta
  • CloudByte
  • VMware
  • Microsoft

Mainstream Storage vendor

  • EMC ViPR
  • HP StoreVirtual
  • Hitachi
  • IBM SmartCloud Virtual Storage Center
  • NetApp Data ONTAP

Storage Appliance vendor

  • Tintri
  • Nimble
  • Solidfire
  • Nutanix
  • Zadara Storage

Hyper Converged Appliance

  • Cisco (Starting price from $59K for Hyperflex systems+1 year support inclusive)
  • Nutanix
  • VCE (Starting price from $60K for RXRAIL systems+support)
  • Simplivity Corporation
  • Maxta
  • Pivot3 Inc.
  • Scale Computing Inc
  • EMC Corporation
  • VMware Inc

Ultimately, SDS should and will provide businesses will worry free management of storage without limitation of hardware. There are compelling use cases of software defined storage for an enterprise to adopt software defined storage.

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