michael-letschen-nexentaOn the eve of his appearance at Cloud Expo Europe, Michael Letschin, Director of Product Management Solutions at Nexenta, discusses why storage is the crucial factor in new SDDC deployments and developments…

The amount of data generated and stored today is exploding. As much as 90% of the world’s data has been generated in the last two years, and developing technology trends, such as the Internet of Things, Cloud, Social Media and Mobility, are set to fuel that growth even more.

This is creating additional pressure on data centre managers already struggling to make do with flat or decreasing IT budgets, especially when so many data centres lack the flexibility, scalability and availability to meet the challenges these trends brings with them, or to contain the data deluge they are set to unleash.

The transformation of the compute level by the adoption of server virtualisation technologies from VMware, Microsoft and the open source community points the way forward. The focus is shifting toward replicating what has occurred at the compute level in the two other constituent parts of data centre infrastructure, storage and the network, to achieve the final objective of the Software Defined Data Centre (SDDC).

The SDDC is set to change data centre economics and deliver new levels of scalability, availability and flexibility, with a dramatically lower total cost of ownership. It will free enterprises from expensive vendor lock-in, allowing them to scale more easily, innovate more rapidly and bring new solutions to market more efficiently.

Software-Defined Storage

One of the three pillars of SDDC is Software-Defined Storage (SDS), the virtualisation of storage by separating storage software functions from the underlying hardware. SDS can help address customers’ critical pain points of scalability, availability, flexibility and cost, allowing them to choose the best hardware and software and combine them into the most effective product for their needs.

Simon Robinson, industry analyst and Vice President for Storage at 451 Research, believes that server and desktop virtualisation acted as a catalyst to organisations to engage in a fundamental rethink of their storage strategies, especially when it comes to the deployment of ‘cloud era’ applications and workloads.

He describes SDS as “a proxy for transformation”. It is not a single type of product or technology but a pervasive approach that can be applied to a wide number of use cases and technologies. Virtualisation and cloud is a proxy for IT transformation at the server level, SDS is “a synonym for storage transformation, in terms of efficiency, agility and lowering the overall cost of managing the storage environment”.

A recent survey by 451 found enterprise storage managers viewed SDS as a means to reduce hardware costs, lower overall storage Capex and cut Opex. That’s definitely the experience of co-location specialist C4L. Group technical director, Alex Cruz Farmer says SDS is helping the cloud service market adapt quickly because it is “fast, reliable and flexible to support any organisation’s solution. Most importantly, it is cost effective. Organisations are always on the lookout for a solution that can perform at the highest level at a competitive price.”

Simon Green, technical director at digital agency hosting specialist Wirehive, can testify to the reliability and scalability that SDS delivers, along with cost improvements. Adopting SDS has provided the company with a platform for virtualising critical applications without concern for performance, reliability, or scalability, while bringing application integrity, manageability, scalability, business continuity and lower total cost of ownership.

“In the cloud services market, organisations want efficiency and flexibility from their storage solutions,” he says. By adopting SDS, Wirehive has benefited from lower TCO, higher performance and reliability and increased its competitiveness in the market.

Robinson at 451 believes a big focus for SDS in 2015 will be around enabling cloud-based and cloud-like storage capabilities, whether that applies to “a service provider standing up public cloud storage services, or an enterprise looking to implement an on-premises private storage cloud”.

That’s a view shared by Sam Greenblatt, chief technologist in residence at Nexenta, who says SDS “allows enterprises to develop and deploy most demanding everyday apps via the Cloud infrastructures of the future – building on and beyond the leading legacy storage systems to achieve the highest level of simplicity, reliability and flexibility with the lowest TCO with a 100% software vision. OpenSDS is at the forefront of addressing today’s IT challenges with an open business model.”

To find out more about how SDS and the Software-Defined Data Centre can reduce Capex/Opex and improve performance, security and reliability, come and listen to the panel discussion ‘Can a Software-Defined Data Center Reduce Capex/Opex AND Improve Performance, Security and Reliability?’ at Cloud Expo Europe at the ExCel Centre in London tomorrow (Keynote Theatre at 15.00, Thursday 12 March)