Debunking Common Myths about Software-Defined Storage

Fact vs. Fiction

FICTION #1:  Software-Defined Storage Is Just Vendor Hype

In the early days of software-defined storage (SDS), some over-ambitious vendors repackaged existing products and slapped an SDS tag on them, in a ham-fisted attempt to gain a quick foothold in an emerging market. Initially, this tarnished the concept and slowed adoption.

But that was then. This is now. Over the past five years, SDS has earned due recognition and market acceptance as the best route to immense storage capacity at low cost. In a recent survey by Enterprise Strategy Group, 68% of IT leaders say they’ve committed to SDS as a long-term strategy. Right now, storage leviathan IBM is in the process of investing $1 billion in an SDS initiative. And the Scality RING, our own software-defined object storage platform, currently serves over 500 million end-users worldwide with over 800 billion objects in production.

In another survey, Enterprise Strategy Group reports that 45% of IT organizations familiar with object storage expect it to reduce their dependence on NAS over the next 3 years. Another 25% say it will entirely eliminate their need for NAS during the same period.

And here’s the clincher. According to Research and Markets, “The total Software Defined Storage market is expected to grow from $1409.7 million in 2014 to $6217.6 million by 2019, at an estimated Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 34.6% from 2014 to 2019.”

We’d say this is about as real as a technology can get.

FICTION #2:  SDS is Too Complicated

not complicatedSDS has been termed too complex for the average IT organization to operate. Not only is this assertion erroneous; it’s distinctly ironic. By consolidating numerous storage silos into one giant, centrally administered resource pool, SDS makes storage vastly easier to manage. In another nod to simplicity, the Scality RING runs on any mix of affordable industry-standard x86 servers, as opposed to requiring costly, proprietary SAN appliances. And expanding Scality is as easy as plugging in more hardware. The RING automatically does the rest, rebalancing the load to scale performance and data durability along with capacity. If that doesn’t sound simple enough, consider the alternative—namely, the complexity of managing SAN storage at petabyte scale… and the headaches of migrating all your data every few years, as required in a traditional storage buying cycle.

FICTION #3:  SDS is Only for Large Enterprises

A corollary of the “too complex” fable is the notion that only immense companies with armies of storage specialists can integrate and run SDS. Certainly, SDS doesn’t come in an appliance “box” together with an expert to install it. But the DIY days of software-defined storage are long gone. Today’s customers purchase Scality solutions in hardware/software bundles, just as with conventional storage. Thanks to our close partnerships with Dell, HPE, Cisco, and other server vendors, there are a wide range of validated, integrated solutions to choose from—all backed by proven, expert support from Scality. What’s more, the RING’s management software is expressly tailored to require fewer and less sophisticated administrative staff.

FICTION #4:  SDS is Too Slow

“Too slow for what?” would be the operative question. And the answer is: The software-defined Scality RING is pretty darn fast. By deploying the RING as a near-line video archive, our customers in media and entertainment have increased their file transfer speeds by a factor of 10. And Los Alamos National Laboratory (yes, THAT Los Alamos National Laboratory) has chosen the Scality RING to power Trinity, one of the world’s fastest supercomputers. Their RING deployment writes data at 28.5 GB per second.slow like a snail

That being said, SDS is not aimed at the small number of storage applications that require the absolute lowest latency—such as post-production video editing and virtual desktops. But it’s by far the optimal solution for the 80% of use cases that are capacity-driven. To name a few: active near-line archiving; video on demand; content distribution; and web, mobile, and cloud applications. With native support for all data types, the Scality RING is also ideal for consolidated multi-petabyte storage duties in such domains as HPC, IoT, traditional backup, archive-as-a-service, compliance archiving, and long-term archives.

FICTION #5:  It Only Works for Small and Medium-Sized Businesses

“SDS is just for large companies—no, make that small companies!”  So which is it?

Both statements are equally untrue. The small-company myth likely owes its origin to the typical early-adopter profile: smaller and more agile businesses are often the quickest to the leading edge. Large, bureaucracy-laden enterprises are much slower to embrace new technologies.

But this idea too is outdated. A mature SDS platform like the Scality RING is actually of greatest appeal to large global enterprises. They, after all, have the biggest and most pressing need for the RING’s unlimited scalability and deployability across multiple sites. No wonder, then, that most of our 120-plus customers are very sizable organizations with multi-petabyte deployments, in such data-intensive industries as education, financial services, scientific research, broadband services, video on demand, content distribution, telecom, and government.

There is such a thing as being too small for SDS: Scality’s minimum recommended deployment size is about 200 terabytes. But smaller companies can still enjoy the RING’s elastic scale, high durability, and affordability, in the form of hosted storage services—near-line backup, archive, and much more—from Scality-powered vendors such as the Dutch service provider AXEZ.

Scality was a leader in the 2016 IDC MarketScape Learn moreDownload the IDC MarketScape Report

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