3 Pros & Cons of Software-Defined Storage (Data Storage)

August 28, 2019

Software-defined storage (SDS) is a type of storage architecture that abstracts the software used for storage from the underlying hardware. It exists as a software layer between the physical storage hardware and data requests. SDS is designed to give enterprises advanced storage features that run on commodity hardware.

The average data that one enterprise processes daily often exceeds the yearly workload of a decade ago. Those numbers will only increase, with a digital data growth rate projected to be 42% through 2020. This is why SDS is attractive to businesses today: it’s scalable and cost-effective.

Despite this, SDS isn’t right for every business. No solution is perfect, and there are numerous things to consider when deciding if SDS makes sense for you. While there can be cost savings that come with using an SDS system, those can be offset by other complications.

Let’s take a more in-depth look into the pros and cons of SDS.

redapt_icon-GREEN-dollar-saving-lower-pricePro: SDS can be less expensive

The overall costs of SDS infrastructure and software can be less than a traditional storage area network (SAN) or network-attached storage (NAS) system. IT administrators are free to investigate less-expensive commodity options while achieving higher levels of performance.

redapt_icon-RED-dollar-expensive-cost-priceCon: The start-up costs can be prohibitive

The costs of a new SDS deployment can be higher. Compared with off-the-shelf solutions, SDS requires solution engineering and technical training. Savings are achieved when your SDS environment scales to a size where your operation team costs are lower than your previous solutions projected maintenance costs.

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redapt_icon-GREEN-app-available-compatible-readyPro: Compatibility with modern data applications

The flexibility of SDS systems allows them to operate many popular data applications. Companies can also choose to continue working with legacy applications using modern infrastructure. SDS has the capability to manage a variety of workload types:

  • Backup
  • Media repositories
  • Video surveillance
  • Data lakes
  • OpenStack
  • Containers

Resources can be matched to the application needs of the business. The SDS can also be configured to accommodate any fluctuations in workload demands.

Companies have the option of using SDS to meet their needs. Portworx is a great example. It’s SDS deployed as a container helping enterprises solve technical issue related to cloud-native storage and data management. Portworx provides persistent storage to containers while addressing enterprise features like data security, protection, and DR.

redapt_icon-RED-business-vender-bad-incompatibleCon: Getting support from vendors

One of the most significant issues that customers run into after an SDS purchase is deploying the solution. Too many SDS vendors focus on the technology itself and fail to obtain a holistic view of the root of a company's data issues. The business ends up with an unworkable solution and an SDS vendor incapable of working through their problems.

The underlying hardware must also be appropriately configured to work with the SDS. Not all systems are created equally. It is up to the SDS vendor to validate that they are picking the right solution for the customer.

redapt_icon-GREEN-time-flexible-availablePro: Expanded flexibility and availability

Organizations making big investments in data need storage capable of delivering resources like data lakes designed to hold information from internal and external company sources. The data often requires lots of scrubbing and refining before it is suitable to be fed back to other tools used for Business Intelligence (BI) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) development.

SDS enables companies to build pools of resources, like physical servers, virtualized hardware, and other cloud-based technology. SDS can handle the high-value workloads needed for advanced analytical solutions. You can enable the 24/7 availability of mission-critical applications.

redapt_icon-RED-lack-expertise-confusedCon: Lack of professionals with SDS expertise

A failed SDS deployment can end up costing a company millions. Companies need personnel with the skills necessary to build out the architecture correctly. They will also need to think about how to manage their SDS support needs.

An inexperienced architect can end up failing at the primary purpose of SDS: to separate the storage needs from the underlying hardware. Instead, they end up making them more tightly coupled, losing the flexibility that is at the core of viable SDS systems.

Learn more about what it takes to build a modern data storage solution by downloading our latest white paper: A Strategic Approach to Data Storage.

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