As enterprises move towards the software-defined data center (SDDC), many of them are deploying software-defined storage (SDS). According to Markets and Markets, the software-defined storage market was worth $4.72 billion in 2016, and it could increase to $22.56 billion by 2021. That's a 36.7% compound annual growth rate.
Enterprises are attracted to SDS for two key reasons: flexibility and cost. SDS abstracts the storage software away from the hardware on which it runs. That gives organizations a lot more options, including the freedom to change vendors as they see fit and the ability to choose low-cost hardware. SDS solutions also offer management advantages that help enterprises reduce their total cost of ownership (TCO).
Enterprises appear eager to reap the benefits of SDS. Camberley Bates, managing partner and analyst at Evaluator Group, said in an interview, "Adoption is increasing as IT end users get more familiar with the options and issues with SDS."
She highlighted four trends that are currently affecting the software-defined storage market.
1. Appliances dominate
By definition, software-defined storage runs on industry-standard hardware, so you might think that most organizations buy their SDS software and hardware separately and build their own arrays. However, that isn't the case.
"Much of the [current SDS] adoption is in the form of an appliance from the vendor, and these include categories such as server-based storage, hyperconverged and converged infrastructure systems," Bates said.
Although the market is embracing SDS, enterprises still don't want to give up some of the benefits associated with buying a pre-built appliance where the hardware and software have been tested to work together.
2. NVMe improves performance
Designed to take advantage of the unique characteristics of SSDs, NVMe provides faster performance and lower latency than SAS or SATA. As a result, many different types of storage solutions have begun using NVMe technology, but Bates said that SDS solutions are adopting NVMe more quickly.
She added that in her firm's labs, NVMe proved to have lower price for performance than other types of storage by a significant margin based on work with Intel last summer.
3. Enterprises want single-vendor support
One of the most common problems organizations run into when deploying do-it-yourself SDS solutions is the support runaround. When they experience an issue, they call their SDS software vendor for help, only to be told that the problem lies with the hardware. And, of course, the hardware vendor then blames the software vendor.
"There is a distinct need to have a single entity responsible for the service and support of the system," Bates said.
She also noted that the potential risk of data loss makes this support issue more significant for SDS than for other types of software-defined infrastructure.
4. Scale-out remains challenging
The other big issue that organizations face with SDS is scalability. "Scale-out designs are not easy," Bates said. "They may do well for the first two to four nodes, but if I am creating a large-scale hybrid cloud, then the environment needs to scale efficiently and resiliently. We have seen environments that fail on both counts."
As organizations increasingly deploy hybrid clouds, they'll need to look for SDS solutions that help them solve this scalability issue.
Camberley Bates will discuss SDS in more depth and offer tips on what enterprises should look for in SDS solutions at her Interop ITX session, "Software-Defined Storage: What It Is and Why It's Making the Rounds in Enterprise IT." Register now for Interop ITX, May 15-19 in Las Vegas.