What is software-defined storage?
Also called virtual storage, it’s the software management of storage hardware resources to effectively pool them to provide flexible storage commensurate with needs both now and in the future.
This is achieved by mainly two software systems working in conjunction with each other:
» A hypervisor - software that enables various resources such as VMs (Virtual Machines) to run under one set of hardware.
» A storage SAN (Storage Area Network) - software that enables storage to be shared across existing hardware resources.
Hypervisor packages such as the market leading vSphere from VMware and Microsoft’s Hyper-V are clear choices, and flexible virtual SAN software fully compatible with these hypervisors and commodity X86 servers is available from StorMagic with their SvSAN solution.
The advantages of software-defined (virtual) storage
Some of the reasons why software-defined storage is being chosen by more organizations:
Being able to react to demands quickly. For example, if a server goes down the software can re-deploy other hardware resources to compensate and then change things ‘back to normal’ when the particular server is back in service. Invaluable if an email server goes down, for example, with the risk of communications being interrupted.
2. Managing Growth
Planned and unexpected growth can be catered for. It’s possible to re-configure the system easily to handle extra requirements without having to invest in new hardware and undergo the upheaval of installing and bedding it in.
3. Accurate Provision
Requirements can be met accurately; just enough resources are available for the given needs at any one time. Compare this to having to predict how much capacity is required and buying and installing hardware accordingly - demand predictions can be wrong leaving hardware under-utilized or overloaded.
The investment in the hypervisor and virtual SAN software will be much less than investing in new hardware.
5. Providing IT centrally to remote locations
Some virtual SANs are tailored specifically to work in ROBO (remote office, branch office) environments that require high availability and performance while cutting hardware costs and the need for skilled IT personnel at each location.
This can be a great asset to organizations such as energy companies needing to access difficult to reach locations such as wind farms, and users requiring central back up to forces in the field such as the military.
Reacting to changing needs
Software-defined storage can react ‘intelligently’ to changing demands by switching and managing resources automatically if desired, and the software systems mentioned above contain various fail-safes to deal with possible power outages and hardware issues.
Look for vendor support that suits your needs. A flexible choice of support levels including a 24 hour option should be on offer.
Site last updated: 3. May 2018