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Understanding Software Defined Storage in a Data-Driven Culture

Software-defined storage, also known as SDS is when software is used to determine when, how and where data is stored within a storage environment.

The underlying resources for SDS or any other sort of data storage are hardware, and without proper oversight, the costs incurred by businesses to backup and archive large amounts of data can quickly skyrocket.  SDS helps avoid that.

In the same way that SD-Wan controls the routing and utilization of multiple networks to provide the most efficient and cost-effective solution, SDS follows the same principle.

Beyond Traditional Data Storage Solutions

However, today it goes beyond duplication vs replication, or geo-redundancy.  Those have become routine standards in today’s technological advances.  Today it’s about policy-driven data management.  

With SDS, data is controlled by utilizing algorithms, AI and other non-human automation that decide where and how to store data.

Utilizing this type of software-based data solution, you still use hardware, but much more efficiently.  With software, you can determine the differences between critical backup data vs. data that does not hold the same value of business impact.   Therefore, which hardware components are used and with what frequency can become an automated process by predefined policies.

For example, some software-defined storage applications run real-time data backups, writing every o/I so if a rollback needs to occur due to a ransomware attack then it can be rolled back to an exact moment in time prior to the data loss.

Does a company need this continuous data protection for all employees in every department? 

Probably not.

Data storage services charge by the amount of data you need to be backed up for disaster and recovery purposes.  Keeping continuous data protection running for receptionists, office managers, or other mid-level operations is overkill and not necessary.  

For those who don’t require such advanced backup services, software defined storage can manage how often those less critical data is recorded, and where it is backed up to.

In addition, if the probability rate of requiring a restore for low-importance data needs is low, archival requirements can be less than those who do require such data protection.   With less archiving required, the less your business needs to spend on additional hard-drives, enclosures, and other networking components.  

Wide Reaching Benefits of SDS

Software-defined storage can be used in a variety of applications, not just data archiving.  Examples include IoT, Big Data management, data migration processes, and hyper-converged architecture.  With software-defined-storage, companies are looking for more virtualization utilization and implementation.

There are many benefits that the SDS structure has over more traditional NAS and SAN devices.   Here are a few:

  • Efficient storage – meaning no more wasted hard drive resources
  • Scalable and flexible – you decide which drives are used for what types of data.  Do you really need the high-performance hardware for low-level backups? Probably not. 
  • Save business costs by utilizing only what you need when you need it.
  • Improve data management and oversight
  • Faster deployment – software is much easier to deploy than traditional older storage methods

Who does SDS benefit?

Software defined storage is not necessary for every size business.  Truth be told, while data backup and recovery should be a part of every business or organization’s operational and IT processes, SDS may simply not be a practical solution for small businesses.

Data services that provide SDS often cater to the interests of large to enterprise businesses looking for solutions that align with their strategic goals.   Enterprises already have infrastructure controls in place where advanced and thorough DR is certainly at the top of the list.  Convincing a CTO of the need for greater control and flexibility with managing Big Data backup processes is not a hard sell. 

However, utilization of SDS isn’t always handled by outside 3rd party vendors either.  Instead companies either hire the right expertise in-house or consult with partners for professional IT services to provide additional recommendations and additional oversight. 

Mark Carlson, Co-Chair SNIA Technical Council discussed how hyperscale organizations are opting to build their own internal storage arrays, rather than continuing the previous trend of storage vendors traditionally used.

As mentioned above, SDS isn’t for everyone.  For smaller businesses, standard backup and recovery services that store data off site can fit the bill just fine, even if the roll back means losing a few hours yesterday’s data that needs to be recreated. 

With advances in AI, data compression and automation, SDS continues to grow in popularity.  What lies ahead only the future knows, but we will certainly see more innovative solutions that address the increasing need of managing and controlling the rise of data storage requirements. 

Gabe Nelson

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Gabe Nelson

Gabe Nelson is a content specialist of over 7 years of experience. Just out of high school he set off crab fishing on the Bering Sea in Alaska. From there he went back home to finish his college degree at the University of Montana. He has a passion and keen understanding when it comes to 3D printing inside and out. He has written hundreds of content pieces in numerous niches. Currently, he lives in Missouri with his wife and kids enjoying the peaceful town of St. Joseph.

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