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Tintri Predictions: In 2013, Software-Defined Storage Will Complete the Software-Defined Data Center

VMblog Predictions

Virtualization and Cloud executives share their predictions for 2013.  Read them in this series exclusive.

Contributed article by Kieran Harty, Tintri CEO

In 2013, Software-Defined Storage Will Complete the Software-Defined Data Center

There's been a lot of talk in recent months about the software-defined data center, or, put another way, the opportunity for IT to move away from infrastructure defined by proprietary hardware and towards a dynamic data center built on standardized hardware that supports a flexible software layer. When people talk about the "software-defined data center," they're essentially referring to three major components: servers, networking and storage.

Servers are the most evolved component of the software-defined data center to date. Server virtualization has evolved from emerging technology to an IT best practice. Outgoing VMware CEO Paul Maritz underscored this fact at VMworld 2012, when he stated that over 60% of enterprise applications are virtualized today, compared to just 25% in 2008.     

After servers come networks. Software-defined networking has been an extremely busy space in 2012. High-profile acquisitions from the likes of VMware (Nicira) and Brocade (Vyatta) - as well as the launches of a number of new software-defined networking companies - have validated software-defined networking, and the significant role they will play in data centers going forward.

That brings us to storage, which has traditionally been the laggard of the data center. In fact, the largest players in the storage market are still using legacy architectures that were built over two decades ago, and tailored to a physical (non-virtualized) infrastructure. Virtualized infrastructures pose new challenges for legacy storage systems; for one, they often cause bottlenecks that hinder overall performance and make for complicated troubleshooting. These performance issues in turn create a need to overprovision storage systems - which comes at a prohibitive cost.

As a result of this phenomenon, storage has long been cited as the single biggest hurdle for organizations trying to broaden their virtual deployment. This has provided a great opportunity for next-generation storage solutions. A number of new solutions have entered the market over the past several years, using new technologies like flash memory and offering new file systems that are purpose-built for today's IT realities. There has been more innovation in the storage field over the past year alone than has been seen in nearly two decades-when companies like EMC and NetApp rose in prominence by building networked storage products that were tailored to that era's IT challenges.

As storage technology continues to progress on a software-defined path, one particular concept will become increasingly important: VM-aware storage. VM-aware storage refers to storage that is built from the ground up for virtualized infrastructure. Rather than operating on traditional storage objects like LUNS and volumes, functionality is provided for software-defined objects like virtual machines and virtual disks. VM-aware storage is typically built using flash and powerful multi-core processors. This storage needs to retain the reliability and availability of traditional enterprise storage while also delivering on the promise of virtualization

VMware itself has acknowledged the problems with traditional storage by introducing the idea of a ‘virtual volumes' or vVols API.  In the future, this API will allow some VM-aware functionality to be added to traditional storage systems.

Expect to see a lot more talk about software-defined (or, VM-aware) storage in 2013. It's clear that the software-defined data center is well on its way to becoming a reality-and that storage is following the path of servers and networks.


About the Author 

Kieran Harty is co-founder and CEO of Tintri (, a Mountain View, CA-based startup that builds VM-aware storage systems. Prior to Tintri, Kieran was Executive Vice President of R&D at VMware for seven years, where he was responsible for all products. He led the delivery of the first and subsequent releases of ESX Server, Virtual Center and VMware's desktop products. Before VMware, he was Vice President of R&D at Visigenic/Borland and Chief Scientist at TIBCO. Kieran has a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University and a Master's Degree in Computer Science from Trinity College Dublin. 

Published Friday, December 07, 2012 8:22 AM by David Marshall
Comments - Virtualization Technology News and Information for Everyone - (Author's Link) - January 15, 2013 7:00 AM

First, I'd like to personally thank everyone for being a valued member and reader of VMblog! Once again, with the help of each of you, VMblog has been able to remain one of the oldest and most successful virtualization and cloud news sites on the Web

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