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Software-Defined Storage Vendors Leading The Pack

  • (Image: Rodyka/iStockphoto)

  • Ceph


    Some of you might be surprised to see Ceph here, but a careful read of how it's put together in principle and in reality is enough to demonstrate that:

    • It's open -- Ceph is an open-source project supported by Red Hat's InkTank team.
    • It runs on any COTS platform.
    • It's a comprehensive universal storage solution with file, block, and object interfaces.
    • It separates out object storage daemons as a class. These are the storage units, either drives like Seagate's Kinetic, or more typically, boxes with a processor and drives.
    • Object storage devices can be built in different ways with services such as deduplication, but the architecture allows for these services to migrate into the virtual instance pool.
    • Ceph is already selling well.

    Conclusion: Ceph is software-defined storage and evolving towards a distributable service environment.

  • Nexenta


    Designed as true software-defined storage, the Nexenta family is a set of modular software services. Nexenta:

    • Is modular and designed to run on shared-nothing COTS clusters.
    • Has well-featured universal access protocols.
    • Is cloud-integrated -- Openstack, Microsoft, AWS.
    • Is integrated with VMware and Citrix.
    • Can scale into petabytes
    • Is very "open" --positively anti-lock-in!
    • Is the leader in installations of SDS.

    Conclusion: Nexenta is bona fide SDS!

  • DataCore Software


    DataCore is SAN-centric software, with a portfolio that reads like a set of independent tools. It features:

    • Storage virtualization
    • The ability to connect cloud storage
    • A mature product

    Conclusion: Datacore's SAN focus is a limitation at this time, though believers in SANs wouldn't agree.

  • Windows Storage Server


    The Redmond crew plays down Windows Storage Server's ability to virtualize. Today it's sold as something to build on to a piece of hardware. However, it's based on a standard Windows Server architecture, so there's no reason to keep it off a virtual platform. Moving WSS into a true software-defined storage model would make for a well-featured offering, since WSS has almost every service already built in.

    Windows Storage Server:

    • Is highly featured -- all the usual data services are already available.
    • Runs everything from all-flash arrays to desktop NAS boxes.
    • With changes to data-flow control, could distribute services across nodes.
    • Compatible with Azure.
    • Selling in volume.

    Conclusion: WSS will be SDS-capable after some minor changes.

    (Image: Ron Bailey/iStockphoto)

  • Symantec Storage Foundation/Veritas InfoScale


    A powerful storage toolkit, Symantec Storage Foundation is transitioning to Veritas InfoScale. The portfolio includes:

    • Caching
    • Deduplication and compression
    • Automated tiering
    • Migration tools
    • Storage pooling across heterogeneous environments

    A broad offering from a well-respected source, this will be a contender for major market share in software-defined storage going forward.

    Conclusion: Symantec is genuine SDS!

    (Image: Symantec)

  • Not Software-Defined Storage

    The following vendors offer storage software, but it isn't SDS, at least not for the near future:

    • EMC -- ViPR and Isilon are marketed as software-defined storage , but EMC has a long road ahead to make all these truly SDS. Fond wishes don't make portable code!
    • IBM -- Closed solution with no real evidence of distributability
    • NetApp -- A lot of powerful code, but needs a major business model change to become true SDS.

    I didn't include hyperconverged system vendors on this list because of their potential for vendor lock-in. This includes Simplivity and Nutanix, both of which have complete, pre-integrated hardware and software products.

    It's possible that these two companies could become software only and make the cut in the future. Clearly, with the ability to distribute function over virtualized servers, they already have virtualized storage software.

    VMware didn't make the cut either. Yes, it's a software vendor and yes, it virtualizes storage, but the platform selection isn't truly open, and the APIs most definitely are closed right now. This will likely change, as the benefits of an open ecosystem outweigh the costs of making your code open.

    (Image: Kuo Chun Hung/iStockphoto)