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Are all software-defined storage vendors the same?

What does software-defined storage mean? How is it implemented? And why does it matter for data center managers?

Software-defined storage is an overused and under-defined term, but the general idea is to implement storage services such that they can be dynamically reconfigured as needed, usually through the use of software-based virtual nodes.

Generally, software-defined versions of storage have extremely competitive price points, and deploy on virtual machines and/or commodity hardware.

Some software-defined storage vendors take aim only at the virtualization environment (e.g., VMware's VSAN product). Many offerings available today -- like those from  HP (StoreVirtual and StoreOnce VSA), Maxta (Maxta Storage Platform), Tarmin (GridBank data-defined storage) and Nexenta (NexentaStor) -- are cross-platform, global and more grid-like solutions that can be provisioned and grow across an organization as needed. The best of these freely scaling offerings offer built-in global replication, a single namespace and advanced analytics (for a storage system) like content indexing, distributed big data style processing and sophisticated usage and auditing management.

Several storage trends -- scale-out, object-based, cloud-ready and software-defined -- deserve your attention in 2015. There are many advantages to migrating all or part of a data center's storage base, but it is likely that most organizations will first deploy these scalable capacity tools for new needs not already tied to a storage system, and to mine data for potential business value.

About the author:
Mike Matchett is a senior analyst and consultant at Taneja Group.

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