Open source will revolutionise the enterprise storage market

Mobility, social media, the Internet of Things, Big Data and the cloud have caused data volumes to reach new heights. Businesses already have too much data to cope with, and it’s unlikely that the growth of ‘Big Data’ will slow down any time soon. Analyst firm IDC has said that the amount of data in the world doubles every two years, and that by 2020 there will be 44 trillion gigabytes of data stored. This data presents massive opportunities for businesses and IDC has also predicted that those organisations that analyse all relevant data and deliver actionable intelligence will see an additional $430bn (£300bn) in productivity gains by 2020 than those that don’t.

While statistics like these show the benefits of data and encourage businesses to invest in analytics and intelligence tools, fewer are considering the storage implications. Vast sums are money are also being spent on making use of the data and storage is fast becoming a critical bottleneck, yet is not being afforded the same attention. Far too many organisations continue to rely on traditional legacy storage and data management setups – static solutions which were never developed for mass data collection and choke when face with an avalanche of information.

These setups are incapable of scaling up or out on-demand and, even if they weren’t, doing so in a financially sustainable way is almost impossible. On top of that, the fact that these solutions are often based on proprietary hardware and designed to deploy from a single location design means they can’t meet many of the required standards of data security either.

An alternative way: SDS

For many businesses storage is a ticking time bomb and some are realising that an alternative way is the only way. While still a relatively new concept, Software Defined Storage (SDS) has risen to prominence over the last few years. SDS architectures are far more flexible than their legacy counterparts and are capable of scaling to meet fluctuating demand for capacity and provide a flexible and – importantly – financially sustainable architecture.

SDS also provides consistent high-performance and streamlined data flow – through, for example, automatic deduplication – which means information is instantly retrievable and high-density applications can be deployed on demand. This agility is not just what businesses want today, but it is what they need in order to meet future storage demands.

While great strides have been made in SDS, there’s more that can be done to truly ensure any investment in it represents a sustainable, future proofed, and affordable alternative. Decoupling management software from the underlying hardware systems used to manage it is the basis of SDS. However, given that there is still some confusion surrounding what SDS really means, it’s not uncommon for vendors to simply repackage their existing solutions, labelling them as SDS and then lock customers in to working with a single vendor. Yet that’s really not the point of SDS.

Of course, it can mean different things to different people and solutions range from do-it-yourself to fully-fledged scale up and scale out architectures, but one thing should be core – it should be free from the proprietary complications of its predecessor.

Taking an open source approach

As such, the next logical step is to take an open source driven approach. OpenSDS allows the software to run on a wider variety of hardware – ensuring it is 100 per cent hardware, protocol, and app agnostic. By the sheer nature of design, being ‘hardware agnostic’ means that these solutions are easy to integrate with existing infrastructure, where heavy investment has already been made and shouldn’t be wasted. In addition, these solutions are continually evolving for the better – driven by a growing collective of talented and dedicated developers and resources.

Essentially, OpenSDS allows organisations to treat their storage infrastructure in a similar way to their virtualised environments – chose a software stack and then easily swap industry standard hardware underneath as cost, scale and performance needs arise. In the same way, OpenSDS will support any ecosystem and any access protocol, while running on a wide variety of hardware configurations – whether they are all flash, all disk, or hybrid. Clearly the possibilities are huge and, if it’s done correctly, OpenSDS will allow businesses to build scalable, reliable, full featured, high performance storage infrastructures from a wide selection of low cost industry standard hardware.

As Big Data continues to rise, budgets get spent on using it effectively and legacy storage systems become increasingly overloaded, open source SDS is the only logical answer. Businesses looking to spend less and do more will quickly see the benefits of flexible, scalable infrastructure that involves no vendor lock-in. OpenSDS is revolutionising the storage industry – allowing organisations to do things they couldn’t do before while fundamentally changing the economics of the enterprise storage business. All of which can only be a good thing.

Tarkan Maner, chairman and CEO, Nexenta

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