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Benefits of software-defined storage architecture: Time for consensus

Last updated:April 2016

Editor's note

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.

1Create 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.

2Software-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.

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