Software Defined Storage vs. Storage Virtualization

August 1st, 2018
Steve Adil
Disk Products Manager – Mainline Information Systems


Software-Defined Storage – Definition

In the search for greater simplification and more powerful storage management, many companies are looking to implement or expand the implementation of a software defined infrastructure. There are a few ways to describe what “software defined” means:

  • Separation of the Control Plane and Data Plane
  • Software running on virtual servers using commodity hardware
  • Storage virtualization

Here is the Wikipedia definition:

  • Software-defined storage is a marketing term for computer data storage software for policy-based provisioning and management of data storage independent of the underlying hardware.

We at Mainline support all of those definitions. And, we have found that the most evolved SDS infrastructures include a “service catalog” that allows our customers to define a storage management behavior that provides analytical capability as well as automated, policy-based provisioning and lifecycle management of storage resources. Also important is developing an infrastructure that is well suited to multi tenancy.

Storage Virtualization

So where does storage virtualization fit in? The data center first became virtualized with server virtualization using VMware for the Microsoft Windows environments. Storage came later with products like the IBM San Volume Controller and DellEMC VPLEX. Some sources focus on storage virtualization alone, in their definition of what “software defined storage” means. Mainline recognizes that storage virtualization is a key component of SDS, but it alone does not support an evolved SDS environment.

Storage virtualization is a key building block for a complete SDS implementation. Virtualization de-couples the storage hardware layer from the management layer. It also eliminates the various limiting factors surfaced in storage devices (provisioning, management, performance, availability). Virtualization also frees our customers from the restrictions of the supplying storage vendors and eliminates vendor lock-in. Along with this freedom comes the need for the customer to first design the SDS environment to be responsive to their needs; something they may have previously depended on their technology provider to support. Through including an analytical component, customers’ set policies can be automatically monitored, and subsequent adjustments made depending on how efficiently and effectively the policies are performing:

Automated, Responsive and Highly Available Storage Management

Software Defined Storage provides powerful capabilities for automated, responsive and highly available storage management. Most SDS infrastructures also add the benefits of reduced cost and improved purchasing flexibility. Storage virtualization alone is no longer considered to be equivalent to SDS, but it is an important step toward the end state. The other benefit to virtualization is improved cost control without sacrifice.

More Information
Mainline has aided many customers in implementing storage virtualization and has been an expert in this technology for many years. Contact your Mainline Account Executive, or contact Mainline directly for more information on how you can take advantage of SDS.

Related Blogs:

IBM Ranked #1 in Software Defined Storage – again

The Year of Software Defined Storage

Software Defined Storage: What is it?

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