“Bottom line -- If I can completely separate my storage software purchase decision from my storage hardware purchase decision... then I have ‘Software Defined Storage.’”
You’ll be hard pressed to find just one agreed-upon definition for what exactly software defined storage (SDS) is, but this comment, left on the article “I know for certain what software-defined storage is”, takes a pretty good stab at it.
So what exactly is Software Defined Storage?
A software defined storage system manages data storage independently of the underlying hardware and its firmware. This means that you can purchase any SDS software and it will immediately work with your current hardware and file system.
Traditional storage doesn’t provide the flexibility that today’s companies require to meet the demands of massive data growth and the need to scale and integrate in order to manage that data. And so many organizations are turning towards software defined storage solutions to resolve these challenges.
There are numerous benefits to adopting an SDS solution, such as increased security, smoother data movement and the flexibility to adjust the speed to the task at hand.
Once an organization makes the decision to move to an SDS solutions they face the challenge of having to decide which tool to choose. With so many options available and each one providing different features that meet different needs, this is no easy task.
To help you in this decision we turned to the IT Central Station community for their advice on choosing the right software defined storage solution.
How to choose a software defined storage solution according to real users
Clarify your organization's requirements and objectives
One of the biggest challenges in choosing an SDS solution is that each vendor has it’s own interpretation of what SDS is. Some vendors implement SDS as a software-only solution while others bundle it along with storage hardware.
So before you begin researching your options it’s crucial to first clarify how your organization hopes to benefit from moving to an SDS solution and which factors are the most important to them.
Here is what tech professionals in the IT Central Station community say is important to them when choosing an SDS solution:
“Functionality, performance, and cost.”
Architect999w, Solutions Architect
“A lot of times, my company's really focused on cost, which is a pain in the butt. We're a very big VMware shop to start with, so whenever we can use a product that can simplify deployments, simplify management, and integrate with everything that we already have, that makes it really desirable.”
Vivek K., Director of Storage and System Architect
“Customer support, the actual technology, how robust or stable it is and the ease of deployment are the criteria to look for when selecting a vendor.”
Konstantinos K., Systems Engineer at BETA CAE
“The factors that we look at while selecting a vendor are that they should be innovative, provide a good support option and have reliable products. I don't want my product to fail.”
Radhakrishna M., Architect at Gulf Business Machines
“When I am selecting a vendor I look at the support as well and not just the product. It's the complete ecosystem of the product and support that we evaluate, before selecting a vendor.”
Craig J., Storage administrator
“In regards to the vendor selection, it's a price versus reward scenario. We have to be very conscious of what we spend and we have to make sure that the company is spending their money well. So, we're able to buy the products that allow us to have uptime.”
SystemsE68bf, Systems Engineer
“Good luck finding anything that does half of what it does. When looking for a vendor, I look for reliability. I've had lots of good experiences with it. It's been a very reliable product and the feature set is something you can't get anywhere else.”
Arghya B., Senior Systems Engineer
“If you don't have the expertise, choose the right partner or vendor based on proven expertise by the vendor in large production environments.”
Consider your medium-to-long term requirements
Be sure to look at your requirements, not just short-terms but also medium-to-long term. Make sure you invest only to the typical three- or five-year window to give yourself the flexibility to move into something else if necessary.
Once you have a clear understanding of what features are valuable to you it’s time to begin the most important step in purchasing a new software defined storage solution, the research.
“Gather as much information as you can”
Mike F., CEO of Baystate Health,
“When researching anything... the more information the better. We spent a great deal of time talking to not just health care institutions... but to a number of non-healthcare institutions that are further along in some of these projects than healthcare is. We spoke with them, we spoke with vendors, we spoke with even other consulting firms. I think it's very important to gather as much information as you can before embarking on this.
Finding the resources for the gathering of this information is both hard and easy.
The ability to get information from other institutions if they're outside of healthcare, and remember I'm speaking from a healthcare point of view, may be difficult, because they may not be allowed to share certain information. Getting consulting information is difficult unless you, of course, engage them. And I would argue that it's not necessarily such a bad idea to engage for a small amount of money the relative experts in some of these consulting firms and just have a quick conversation with them. If all of a sudden they seem to be knowledgeable, you do your homework on them, I would argue a further engagement is not necessarily a bad idea. But you do have to put some efforts into finding the info. It's not just going to fall out of space.”
Matt B., Data Center Engineer at Strategic Solutions of Virginia
“Peer reviews and peer contents are amazing things to be doing. That's part of the reason why we come here. We want to maintain our relevance, industry wide, and so we always constantly bounce ideas off of other peers in the industry.”
Ben G., Global Cloud Architect at Tribune Media
“When looking at any new technology, having peer review and having information available about what it's doing, how many people have adopted it and whether or not it's a good technology is critically important. It's good to be on the edge but you don't want to be the first guy to take the blind leap so having that out and having the forms available has been very important.
Listen to your rep...mostly
Eric W., Systems Administrator
“I would encourage you to heed the advice of your rep on what to purchase with one exception: Make sure the hardware you’re purchasing is the latest generation of hardware available.”
Narrow down your options
After doing all of that research you should have a good idea as to which solutions best match what you are looking for. Now it’s time to narrow down your options and evaluate how they compare to one another.
Solutiona357, Solutions Architect
“Always weigh the pros and cons of the solution that you are looking for. Does it satisfy your solution requirements? Does it fit with the long term goals? What type of workloads are being deployed? Cloud integration or some type of automation required?
Many factors can and will come into play with choosing the proper solution. Look very closely at each one and do a comparison to determine which solution aligns with your needs the most. Once you have narrowed things down to two or three solutions you can then use the results of the assessment to assist with the final decision.”
Before buying, test it out
Found a solution that seems like a good fit? These users recommend that you test out any solution that you are considering buying before making a purchase decisions.
Michel I., Virtualization System Administrator
“Test the product before implementation to see if it fits your needs. And above all, be careful with technical prerequisites and other technical constraints.”
Farhan H., IT Admin at Felda Prodata Systems Sdn Bhd
“You have an option to start small instead of going big at first, which will capitalize your budget. You can ask for a loaner...to play with; to check and verify their performance and match it to your requirements.”
Marc H., Senior Consultant at Computacenter
“My advice is to definitely test it out; not listen to all the marketing stuff. Test it out on real-life environments, and especially test it out on newer systems. Don’t test it out on five- or six-year-old servers, because you won’t be able to get the best performance.”
To learn more about what IT Central Station users have to say about their software defined storage solutions read their user reviews here.