One of the hottest new terms in tech these days is “software defined.” It is all over many tech companies marketing literature. A Google search for “software defined” yields 61,900,00 results. This must be a major trend!

But what is it?

As we are building a new data management platform I thought I better check and see if we could claim that we were “software defined storage” (those pesky marketing people always want to know things like this…) so I decided to head to the source -  Wikipedia. Here is the definition.

Software-defined storage (SDS) is a term for computer data storage technologies which separate storage hardware from the software that manages the storage infrastructure. The software enabling a software-defined storage environment provides policy management for feature options such as deduplication, replication, thin provisioning, snapshots and backup.

First question, if the new era is software defined was the last era was “hardware defined?”  OK, I got it, the software is separate. That is good news because we do that. Before I tell the marketing folks to go for it I decide to verify by checking Google again. This time I look at the “sponsored links” and the first two come up as Tintri and Nutanix. I looked through the offerings of both companies and, as far as I can tell, neither sell any software. Both appear to only offer specialized HW appliances.

Maybe Wikipedia is wrong or maybe I just need understand the concept of  “separate.” I dug deeper and found this on TechTarget

Software-defined storage (SDS) is an approach to data storage in which the programming that controls storage-related tasks is decoupled from the physical storage hardware. 

Ahhh…  decoupeled! Not separate. That sounds better. So the software doesn’t have to be separate, just decoupled.  But wait a minute; this moniker could be applied to half or more of the storage and data management products in the last 20 years. This is hardly new.

Maybe I should go back to Wikipeda and read the details.  What I found is that SDS can be claimed if ANY any of the following are true:

-       Storage Virtualization

-       Parrallel NFS

-       Any OpenStack Storage stuff (including old storage arrays connected to OpenStack)

-       Storage Automation and Policy Management

-       Scale-out storage

-       You can fog a mirror (sorry I threw that one in)

If I read this correctly. A 20 year-old RAID array using a piece of policy management SW is SDS. A basic iSCSI array connected to Cinder is SDS. A totally custom flash array that offers SLA-based management it SDS.

 So – my conclusion is that Storage Defined Storage is:





Anything you want to be…













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