By Kyle Christopher
Software-defined storage, sometimes referred to as storage hypervisor, is the recent trend among storage manufacturers. Software-defined storage can save you a lot of time and money. . . if you know how to take advantage of it. Let’s start by defining exactly what software-defined storage is. In essence, software-defined storage products virtualize underlying physical devices, essentially allowing you to have better control over the resources of your hardware. Instead of presenting 100% of your resources to one single OS, now you can grant whatever you wish, and adjust it on the fly. Ideally, it will abstract typical controller functions from the hardware and move them into software, functions such as data protection, snapshots, replication, multi-array (a.k.a., network) RAID and volume management, to name a few. Sound a lot like virtualization? Indeed, it is very similar in the sense that it allows you to use your storage a lot more efficiently while not limiting you in terms of your vendors or platforms.
There are a lot of benefits to this type of technology, but let’s focus on four.
1. Elimination of Dedicated Storage Controller Hardware
Being liberated from the necessity of having certain storage controller hardware and storage media allows you to place these functions just about anywhere in your infrastructure. In other words, these functions no longer need to run on dedicated hardware and can run alongside virtual machines. This results in a highly functional converged infrastructure. As IT professionals continually face budget pressures, the idea of purchasing hardware from third-party vendors and independent resellers
is a lot more appealing and justifiably so. You can typically find hardware at a much better price, usually with great maintenance plans
and deep discounts.
2. Commodity Server Hardware
If your storage controller function is in your software, you’re now able to execute this on any type of server hardware, allowing you to consider a lot of options you might not otherwise consider. Suddenly pre-owned hardware or disks seem like a pretty good option since your hardware is no longer the determining factor in your functionality. Your hardware is no longer the limiting factor. The purchase and implementation of your hardware frees you up to consider other, less expensive options. These are options that can be customized to fit your environment, significantly reducing your acquisitions costs on hardware.
3. A Simpler Scaling Model
We are seeing the trend of implementing the software storage controller within a virtual server infrastructure more and more. This uses available compute power from the hosts in the infrastructure. As alluded to above, you no longer need the storage controller to be installed on dedicated hardware. You can now place it anywhere you like within the virtual server infrastructure. The result is reduced costs and simplified scaling. In addition, if a virtual storage controller is installed every time you had a host, processing and capacity scale with your growth. Sounds like a dream.
4. Use Existing Hardware
Lots of IT professionals struggle with what to do with their legacy hardware. Unfortunately, a lot of IT professionals are duped into just buying new storage at exorbitant prices (see our blog on the 3 Things Your Traditional VAR Isn’t Telling You
). Of course, you can always sell your existing hardware
and lower your overhead costs on the new equipment, but you can also put it to good use! Software-defined storage design allows you to tie into your existing infrastructure, extending the life current hardware.
Software-defined storage is gaining traction more and more in enterprise datacenters. It’s worth taking a few minutes to consider whether you can find a better price on your hardware. Talking to a data storage expert can help you take your virtual infrastructure to the next level, eliminating certain hardware necessities, and giving you access to simpler and less-expensive options for your data storage infrastructure.
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