The emergence of digital has had a transformative, though many would say disruptive, effect on people’s everyday lives. While the traditionally minded might take a dim view of emerging technologies, being naturally critical or suspicious of any new thing that adds to their feeling of displacement, others living in a Kurzweil/Bezos world champion digital as the way forward into a world of almost limitless potential.
One thing is certain: “going digital” helps people declutter: the music collector unloads his LPs, cassettes and CDs as he builds up a digital collection on one or more external hard drives; the college professor replaces much of his personal reference library with electronic editions, which he can access any time on a smartphone, e-reader, or tablet; and the film enthusiast gets rid of his DVDs and Blu-ray discs and subscribes to a streaming service like Netflix or Apple TV.
The emergence of digital technology has had an enormous effect on data storage. Software-defined storage (SDS) software products abstract storage management from physical devices, which allows IT staff to more closely manage and control storage features. SDS is like storage virtualization in that it allows companies to more intelligently use their storage, free of the need to use a single storage vendor or platform.
SDS can help companies leverage existing storage and hardware assets. Companies that “go SDS” can use a wide variety of media types; they can essentially go with any kind of hardware they want. The key that opens the lock lies in the software, which provisions and manages the hardware through various policies. IT staff gain considerable agility as they have cut the cord between the organization’s goals and the hardware it needs to use to accomplish those goals. With SDS, IT professionals can dedicate a larger portion of their valuable time to managing the company’s data as opposed to managing and maintaining physical components.
SDS is all about intelligently reallocating company resources and removing limitations on the storage environment. It’s about giving IT admins the ability to swap in and swap out hardware and media as they see fit. Users also benefit in an SDS situation as they are free to involve resources from the cloud on an as-needed basis or can bring storage in house. SDS makes the question of “where” obsolete, and IT staff no longer must worry about physical (i.e., hardware) configurations.
Market set to explode
SDS is no fleeting trend in business. The worldwide SDS market is set to grow from $6.5 billion this year to a staggering $22.56 billion by 2021. The market today is driven by a need by organizations for both financial and operational efficiency. Companies’ data storage needs are growing, and growing more complex, and with this growth, their need to be cost effective. Companies want to do it right when it comes to data storage, and they don’t want to spend a fortune along the way.
Storage is moving away from traditional SAN- and NAS-based architectures in favour of an SDS model. While it might be overstating things to say that the future belongs to SDS, there will be a huge increase in the use of server-rich storage architectures leveraging SDS software over the next decade. This is no longer a maybe. While traditional external storage appliances may not disappear, they are on the downswing.
This leaves organizations with only two choices: maintain the status quo until, inevitably, they must change, or acknowledge SDS as the next “thing” in data storage and move on it appropriately.
Read “Meeting Industry Needs for Software-Defined Storage” to learn more about what IBM has to offer by way of SDS under a common framework and management model.