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Benefits of software-defined storage architecture: Time for consensus

While analysts agree software-defined storage separates hardware from software, vendors make numerous claims about the technology. Users just want to concentrate on the advantages SDS brings to their environments.

Introduction

Whether you love it, hate it or just don't understand it, software-defined storage (SDS) has carved out a place in the technology market. But with vendors from many different corners of the data storage market claiming to offer products espousing software-defined storage architecture, IT staff can become confused as to the true meaning of the term. Despite lingering ambiguity, industry analysts have reached a consensus as to what the technology accomplishes in the data center.

At a basic level, software-defined storage architecture separates the control plane from the data plane. This means common storage features are not tied to the hardware storing the data. Features such as deduplication, replication and snapshots -- which are traditionally packaged with hardware -- are often included in an SDS offering along with a centralized management platform. Storage virtualization and, increasingly, hyper-converged storage can also be considered types of software-defined storage because they decouple storage software from the hardware.

Flexibility and price are oft-cited benefits of software-defined storage architecture. Because capacity is pooled from storage hardware across an environment, storage features can be extended to all arrays and storage administrators can easily provision storage for virtual machines. And because these types of software offerings generally work on a range of hardware, it allows the use of less-expensive commodity hardware. SDS can even be used to add new features to older storage systems, without needing to replace the entire device.

This guide explores various perspectives of software-defined storage, some of the major benefits of software-defined storage -- as well as drawbacks -- and explains where the technology can best be put to use. Lastly, we provide several views on software-defined storage architecture from analysts who work one-on-one with vendors and users.

1Defining SDS-

Making sense of a vague term

Software-defined storage can seem to be more of a buzzword than an actual type of storage. While vendors often use the term liberally to create excitement for their products, there are specific attributes that make storage truly software-defined. The following articles describe these features and clarify the benefits of software-defined storage and how they differ from similar developments in the technology market.

Feature

Intro to the SDS market

Analyst Marc Staimer explains which technologies fall into the software-defined storage architecture market and what's driving their adoption. Continue Reading

Answer

Differentiating software-defined storage and storage virtualization

At first glance, software-defined storage architecture and storage virtualization may seem to be one and the same. But there are several important distinctions between the two technologies. Continue Reading

Answer

What's the relationship between software-defined and hyper-converged systems?

Hyper-converged products offer an entire storage infrastructure. SDS may be a part of that makeup, but there are distinctions. Continue Reading

Answer

Three forms of software-defined storage

Software-defined storage has an abundance of use cases. Here are the most common ways it is used in today's market. Continue Reading

2Practical advice-

Create a software-defined storage architecture

Understanding the definition of software-defined storage is one thing, but you also need to comprehend how various types of SDS affect your computing environment. The following articles offer details on use cases, as well as which implementations might garner the most benefits of software-defined storage in your data center.

Feature

Use SDS for DIY arrays

From storage virtualization to convergence, it's important to determine what uses are best for software-defined storage. It's also important to recognize disadvantages, such as unpredictability, when deciding if SDS products are superior to traditional storage technology. Continue Reading

Tip

Potential SDS drawbacks

Software-defined storage has definite benefits, but that doesn't make it the best option for every situation. These are some potential issues with the technology that should be considered before implementation. Continue Reading

Video

Software-defined storage complications

While software-defined storage is meant to simplify data storage, some technology missteps can make storage systems management more difficult. Continue Reading

Answer

Three options for software-defined storage architecture implementation

Storage virtualization, proprietary software and hypervisor-agnostic products all fall into the SDS category -- but how do you decide the best options for your storage needs? Our expert walks you through each one. Continue Reading

Tip

Choosing between custom and commodity hardware

One of the biggest software-defined storage considerations is whether to use commodity hardware or to buy hardware specified by the SDS vendor. Commodity hardware tends to be cheaper, but vendor-recommended hardware has its advantages. Continue Reading

Tip

An in-depth look at SDS vendors

Expert George Crump breaks software-defined storage into two categories: software-only products and those where software is bundled with vendor-specific hardware. He then takes a detailed look at the vendors selling both types of products. Continue Reading

Video

Software-defined storage appliance model

In this video, expert Jon Toigo explains the SDS appliance model. Vendors that sell commodity hardware packaged with proprietary software can provide easier installation and migration. Continue Reading

3Opinions-

Software-defined storage architecture: Big deal or old news?

Software-defined storage is a contentious technology: Is it a meaningful term or one that changes from vendor to vendor? Our storage experts take the SDS leviathan head on. Find out what these noble souls have to say.

Opinion

Fighting to find the truth in software-defined storage

Rich Castagna, TechTarget's vice president of editorial, continues to struggle with the true meaning of software-defined storage architecture. He looks to a certain former secretary of state for guidance. Continue Reading

Opinion

What is software-defined storage technology?

Analyst Toigo had a revelation; the reason it's so hard to find a definition for software-defined storage is because there are multiple, competing definitions. Continue Reading

Opinion

Keeping faith despite software-defined storage hype

Too much hype and not enough delivery may have discouraged some users from using SDS technology, but you shouldn't give up hope, says Toigo. Continue Reading

Opinion

Fundamentally transforming the storage market through software

The benefits of software-defined storage have many organizations rethinking their storage strategy -- a wider trend in the data storage market. Continue Reading

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