Large enterprises have been facing challenges in recent years, and one of these is the storage of information through new software-defined technologies such as SDS. At the beginning of the computer era, hardware outpaced software, but today, the software has the upper hand, and equipment and peripherals tend to become obsolete.
With the emergence of cloud technology, many application development companies have set themselves the task of creating a solution to extend the useful life of hardware a little further. It is where software-defined storage (SDS) comes in as the ideal solution to this dilemma.
What is software-defined storage?
For software developers, software-defined storage, or SDS, represents an architectural model that allows hardware independence through storage software.
This ability to separate the control software from the hardware allows you to extend your storage capacity to the network or system when required, without adding another proprietary hardware component.
SDS is an essential element of the hyper-converged infrastructure environment, which defines everything through software that does not depend on hardware. In this case, SDS creates a virtualized software management layer that operates on top of the storage hardware.
SDS can run on any standard system, where the software is not dependent on proprietary hardware, allowing any other technology to be purchased to increase storage capacity. Although the definition of SDS is straightforward in detail, it focuses on separating software from storage hardware to achieve storage capacity expansion as the essential technological aspect.
This design allows for end-to-end management of all storage resources in a data center architecture (SDDC), regardless of software-defined size, as resources can be easily automated.
Characteristics of software-defined storage
Some differences stand out in the subject of storage when comparing the different existing technologies. An example of this is network-attached storage (NAS) or storage area network (SAN), which differ from SDS because the latter is designed to operate on any x86 or standard system.
Although the definition of software-defined storage is straightforward in detail, it focuses on the concept of separating software from storage hardware to achieve almost instantaneous capacity expansion. This feature makes it cost-effective, flexible, and scalable.
The independence granted by the software for the management of various storage devices improves the use of SLAs and the quality of service and its derivatives.
Despite the various existing versions of SDS, the following features can be established as the most outstanding:
Allows the software to manage the SDS architecture independently of the storage hardware. This allows the application to work efficiently because its operation does not vary according to the connected device.
Managing the different types of devices in a centralized way represents an advantage in the SDS architecture since it groups the storage resources and operates them as a unit.
The software can have automatic execution routines according to some cases and parameters, which will reduce the number of activities that administrators must perform manually and routinely.
It indicates that some equipment that would become obsolete if SDS is applied in the technological infrastructure can be reused, extending their useful life since there is no dependence on proprietary hardware with the storage software.
Because the hardware is not uniquely intertwined with the storage software, SDS allows devices to be added or removed to the infrastructure quickly and easily without having to make extensive reconfigurations or usage restrictions.
These features of SDS make it easy for end-users to make decisions about what hardware to use and how to link it to their customers and vendors.
Types of software-defined storage
There are a range of software-defined storage types on the market today, including:
- Hypervisor-based. It is a virtualized server platform that uses standard storage hardware. This type of software manages resources using SAN protocols through virtual machines (VMs).
- Docker container-based. The container contains the different software installed on the infrastructure and works with latency by delivering code faster and optimizing hardware resources.
- Scale-out storage for unstructured data. Organizations use it to capture and capitalize unstructured data, such as documents, images, videos, and social media content.
- Distributed file systems for downloading and storing objects. Deployed to manage data volumes with higher performance, greater operational ease, and lower cost.
- HCI software. In this case, the combination of software storage and process virtualization in a single package optimizes performance and cost-effectiveness.
Where to apply software-defined storage
Because they are relatively new, these approaches and technologies are not fully or widely used in most organizations that have acquired them. But it is essential to consider the full scope of applicability of SDS, taking into account the characteristics of this infrastructure in IT.
There are some areas where technology and cloud solutions of this type work perfectly, for example:
- Create Hybrid Clouds. Companies that share information and resources between public and private locations can simplify the management of storage resources between these environments.
- Extend the useful life of existing infrastructure. Companies with limited Capex can use SDS to run storage management on almost any commercial hardware. In this way, they would give the company’s assets an extended lifespan.
- Modernize infrastructure. Conversely, organizations that want to invest in technology can use SDS to acquire new hardware regardless of the brands associated with the existing infrastructure.
- Virtual Desktops (VDI). When there are few specialized IT staff to manage infrastructure resources, using SDS through virtualized desktops offers better performance, reduced costs, and a centralized manner.
- Internet of Things (IoT). Of course, automation of equipment and machinery requires an efficient way of storing and processing information. Therefore, SDS can reduce those costs, allowing more information to be available for automated analyses.
- Remote or branch office (ROBO). If you want to expand your organization without significant investment, you can leverage existing hardware (servers), adaptable to existing equipment, allowing easy and quick implementation.
5 Benefits of software-defined storage
These are brief aspects that are considered benefits or advantages of implementing software-defined storage management in the enterprise:
- Use of different non-proprietary hardware in the infrastructure. It allows other x86 servers to work seamlessly in an SDS environment, expanding storage capacity almost instantaneously.
- Cost-effectiveness in hardware. Not having exclusivity in the servers and devices associated with the management software can be more economical and cost-effective options.
- Infrastructure scalability. There is no significant limitation in the practical and quick incorporation of new equipment to the network to expand its capabilities. There is no explicit restriction on the hardware to be used.
- Extensive use of SLA, IT governance, security, and data protection. The independent nature of SDS allows the integration of efficient management strategies.
- Operation of SDS on any standard system. This feature provides enormous flexibility and scalability.
SDS has lower costs, a more flexible and scalable system, the freedom to acquire non-proprietary hardware; SDS allows guaranteeing a more acceptable level of service for the vast majority of business needs.
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