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DataCore Software 2019 Predictions: Software-Defined Storage Becomes Increasingly Important to the Modern Data Center

Industry executives and experts share their predictions for 2019.  Read them in this 11th annual VMblog.com series exclusive.

Contributed by Gerardo A. Dada, CMO, DataCore Software

Software-Defined Storage Becomes Increasingly Important to the Modern Data Center

The line between ‘traditional' data centers and the cloud has been blurring for some time, as many now primarily consist of virtualized resources on a co-location environment. As a result of this evolution, IT will increasingly require flexibility and freedom.

The first step in modernizing the data center is to break the silos, achieve vendor independence, and remove vendor-imposed refresh cycles. This is why software-defined is quickly becoming the foundation for the modern data center. The first wave, software-defined compute (virtualization) is well established. Networking (SDN) and security are coming, but they are immature. Software-defined storage is mature and established, and is growing quickly in adoption.

Hardware refresh cycles represent one of the most challenging aspects for IT, especially storage hardware. Typically, an IT department will go through a storage refresh cycle every three to five years, but in some cases the hardware can be used for a longer period of time. Software-defined storage is very flexible, and enables new storage and technologies to be added-whether it's AFAs, NVMe, containers or cloud storage-non-disruptively.  

When the latest and greatest hardware comes out, software-defined storage enables it to be easily integrated into the environment, helping to increase infrastructure agility-there's no need to rip and replace. Software-defined storage also makes it easier to adopt different types of storage (direct attached, arrays, JBODs, NVMe, etc.) and new configurations like hyperconverged or hybrid-converged.

Furthermore, the modern data center will be required to incorporate storage technologies that support synchronous mirroring in local and metro clusters, asynchronous replication for disaster recovery, and continuous data protection, which is like a time machine to undo any damage from ransomware attacks. The most important aspect to ensure availability is the recovery-and it should be recovery that is instantaneous and automatic, with zero touch fall back and re-build. 

As IT departments look to reap the benefits of the software-defined datacenter, the advantages of software-defined storage will be quickly realized in terms of performance, uptime and flexibility. This will help them spend less time on repetitive tasks and expand the technology to cover more of their IT footprint, including additional workloads or datacenters. 

Hyperconverged Goes Hybrid-Converged

The hyperconverged market is maturing and users are now demanding systems that better meet their needs. For example, in a recent state of software-defined storage, hyperconverged and cloud storage market survey, respondents said they are ruling out hyperconverged because it does not integrate with existing systems (creates silos), can't scale compute and storage independently, and is too expensive.

As a result, many of the traditional hardware vendors in the hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) market are shifting to a software offering.  This has led to an overall evolution from the earlier vision of "hyperconverged," primarily consisting of the convergence of compute, storage and network in one single hardware unit, into a model that is software-driven and software-defined, which is called "hybrid-converged."

Hybrid-converged infrastructure provides the same advantages of HCI with additional functionality that allows it to connect to external hosts and to present external storage to the unit. Essentially, this breaks the silo approach and allows independent storage of compute and storage. As a result, users no longer have to choose whether to buy into the HCI model or not-they can have the benefits without the limitations. HCI becomes a building block for a modern datacenter but not necessarily a model that requires discrete HCI systems.

New Storage Challenges Will Emerge as Container Adoption Continues to Grow

Containers are here to stay, and as adoption continues to grow, they will play a huge role in IT in the coming years. However, as the technology matures, there are new challenges emerging, primarily in the areas of security and storage.

The state of software-defined storage, hyperconverged and cloud storage market survey reported that the following surprises/unforeseen actions have been encountered by users after implementing containers: 1) lack of data management and storage tools; 2) application performance slowdowns-especially for databases and other tier-1 applications; and 3) lack of ways to deal with applications such as databases that need persistent storage.

As deployments move from evaluation and testing phases to production deployments, IT organizations require an ability to deliver the same data storage services that are currently provided to monolithic application architectures. More importantly, a solution has to be capable of providing shared storage to existing virtualized and bare-metal application infrastructures, as well as allow DevOps engineers to consume storage on-demand, ensure stateful application data is persistent, and provide the same level of availability and performance as currently provided to the traditional application infrastructures.

Software-defined storage can enable administrators to present persistent storage to container hosts deployed as VMs on virtual hosts, with the ability to provide persistent storage to container hosts deployed on bare-metal as a next step. The presentation of the persistent storage should be done through native controls of orchestration solutions, like Kubernetes, and leverage advanced storage capabilities like continuous data protection (CDP), auto-tiering and synchronous mirroring.

As a result, users will be able to manage the provisioning of storage to container deployments, with the same platform as the rest of the application workloads, and provide the same level of enterprise storage services required for all critical production environments. This will help to further advance the rapid adoption of containers.

NVMe Deployments will be Accelerated by Software-Defined Storage

NVMe (Non-Volatile Memory Express) is one of the hottest industry topics right now as it promises to provide many advantages over legacy protocols such as SAS and SATA. In today's world, which is driven by the need for always-on, real-time data, this becomes a particularly attractive value proposition.

However, while enthusiasm for the technology is strong, current adoption is low. Part of the reason for this is that for large, distributed systems, the problem remains of deploying, managing, and migrating data and applications. There are a lack of software and data services to provide a simple path for businesses to transition without enduring the costs and disruptions required to benefit from the technology. Customers are usually forced by their storage vendors into a ‘rip-and-replace' abandonment of current investments.

NVMe and NVMe-oF deployments will need proven software to accelerate customer adoption. For example, software-defined storage can act as a bridge that unifies and abstracts legacy and new storage, allowing users to seamlessly integrate new technologies such as NVMe/NVMe-oF and gain the benefits-without having to sacrifice past investments. Furthermore, software-defined storage can provide a basis for managing all types of storage at the speed required to realize the benefits of NVMe.

Effective software-defined storage can eliminate changes to hosts, provide quality of services, automate data migration, support NVMe with the existing fabric network, and provide a wide range of enterprise-class data services such as continuous data protection, load-balancing, HA mirroring, auto-tiering, and data migration. Software-defined storage allows for the adoption of varied implementations of NVMe, including local SSDs and NVMe-oF using standard HBAs, and end-to-end NVMe for workloads demanding minimum latency.

Performance, simplicity of deployment, and the ability to leverage existing storage are all critical factors in easing the adoption of NVMe. As we move toward the next evolution of performance and lowering latency with NVMe/NVMe-oF, software-defined storage will help dramatically improve performance and utilization, reduce down-time, and minimize cost and management complexity.

Data Analytics Will Increasingly be Used as a Strategic Asset to Enhance Business Efficiency and Effectiveness

It is estimated that 1.7 Mb of data will be generated every second for every person on Earth by 2020. However, without the right tools, this data will simply be "noise." That's why business leaders around the world are transforming their organizations to become data-driven, leveraging data as a strategic asset to enhance business efficiency and effectiveness.

Data can become the cornerstone of positive transformation when turned into insights that provide information that is actionable and relevant. Insights drive positive business outcomes, influence behaviors and enable more informed decisions, ultimately making a business more effective, efficient and intelligent.

Insights are transformed into data-driven intelligence with the collection, synthesis, analytics and visualization models now available. Additionally, as the data landscape continues to mature, algorithms, machine learning, and artificial intelligence (AI) will be increasingly used to derive insights.  These "intelligent analytics" will be able to process large amounts of data in order to deliver intelligent recommendations. 

How effectively companies can turn data into insights will be a key differentiator over the next decade. As businesses look toward data for future opportunities, and that data continues to grow, IT departments will need to embrace technologies such as software-defined storage to help them manage it all.  

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About the Author

 

Gerardo A. Dada, CMO, DataCore Software

Dada is an experienced technology marketer who has been at the center of the web, social, mobile and cloud revolutions at some of the world's leading companies. Prior to DataCore, he most recently served as vice president of product marketing and strategy at SolarWinds. Earlier, Dada was head of product and solutions marketing at Rackspace, where he established the company as the leader in hybrid cloud. He has also held senior marketing roles at Bazaarvoice, Motorola, and Microsoft. Dada received a five-year business degree from a UAEM University in Mexico and a general management certificate from University of Texas at Austin.

Published Wednesday, January 09, 2019 7:38 AM by David Marshall
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