From financial services and insurance to healthcare and life sciences, data-intensive industries are feeling the impact of rapidly expanding data and are seeking web-scale storage solutions to support this data growth. For many of these organizations with massive scale-out demands, software defined storage (SDS) solutions are appealing. With SDS, the software that controls storage-related tasks is decoupled from the physical storage hardware, placing the emphasis on storage-related services rather than on hardware.
Customers are attracted to this option because SDS solutions promise greater flexibility and lower costs than traditional storage systems, but solutions that separate storage software from hardware often place the burden of integration on the customer, which can quickly become a costly and complex challenge.
The truth is that while many SDS solutions claim to be compatible with a wide range of industry-standard hardware, the challenge of integrating, deploying, and supporting the software with their underlying infrastructure is left solely to the end user. What the end user originally thought would be a simple and efficient implementation can result in unforeseen costs, time, and issues.
Unfortunately, many solutions come with the hidden cost and hassle of aligning existing hardware with a brand new storage system. If the two don’t work together, enterprises must either buy new hardware or spend time and resources getting the existing platforms to operate effectively. Both of these options, inevitably, are an added cost to the organization. Once the system is set up, there is no guarantee that the management interface will run in a smooth and simple manner. When an SDS solution adds complexity to the integration of a storage system, it takes employees away from spending their time working toward business needs and goals. When the storage approach is focused mainly on software integration, time is lost and other hidden costs will emerge.
Managing the various operating system levels and security patches can be a daunting task at scale for many organizations. However, a “software defined/hardware aware” approach can provide these organizations with the flexibility of SDS solutions as well as ensuring seamless integration with industry-standard hardware.
Benefits of a Software Defined/Hardware Aware Approach
A true software defined/hardware aware storage approach delivers proven interoperability and unified management between storage software and certified hardware platforms from a common interface. This approach provides seamless integration with an array of certified hardware platforms, allowing the end user to effectively deploy a storage solution into many existing IT environments. With a software defined/hardware aware approach, vendors are able to ensure that the technology will work on industry standard hardware because each of the platforms already has been through an extensive certification process. This level of certification provides reassurance to companies before they purchase that the solution will work and will be easy to manage.
A software defined/hardware aware approach from a storage software supplier providing seamless integration and flexibility also delivers active monitoring of disk drives, power supplies, and other hardware components for higher system availability and simplified system management.
Flexible, Customer-centric Approach
With a software defined/hardware aware approach, the hardware-certification process and proven interoperability allows for unmatched flexibility, less complexity, and greater efficiency at petabyte scale and beyond. It also simplifies system upgrades, capacity expansion, and system relocation, as both hardware and software are managed from a single interface. Further, system upgrades become easier as organizations benefit from faster hardware refreshes to new certified technologies and a streamlined transition to newer generations of hardware or new hardware brands over the life of the system, maintaining 100 percent availability of the data all the while.
End users and industry analysts have taken note. Piers Nash, Ph.D., director of business development and outreach at the University of Chicago’s Center for Data Intensive Science (CDIS), said the software defined/hardware aware storage approach offers the institution the flexibility to choose whichever standard hardware best suits its needs. “This approach removes hidden costs and complexity associated with some SDS solutions and enables us to manage our data sets from one management platform with greater data reliability and availability.”
Scott Sinclair, an analyst at ESG, said a software defined/hardware aware storage system “provides customers with greater deployment flexibility and the assurance that the technology will seamlessly integrate with their existing IT environments.” This approach allows customers to securely store and manage their growing data at petabyte scale and beyond.
Russ Kennedy is senior vice president of product strategy and customer success at Cleversafe, an IBM company, the object-based storage market share leader.
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