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All you need to Know about Software-Defined Storage Architecture

By CIOReview | Monday, September 18, 2017

In the contemporary era, storage has been software defined, consisting of features designed and delivered as software components within a particular storage-optimized operating environment. Software-defined storage (SDS) is sometimes termed as a storage hypervisor, though both the terms are slightly different in nature, vendors using both for different aspects of their storage systems. The chief benefit of a software-defined storage is that it separates the hardware from the software. There are several forms to implement SDS architecture, which exposes software functionality to hardware across an environment. The SDS architecture divides the data plane from the control plane. This implies that the general storage features are not tied to the hardware storing the data. Aspects such as replication, snapshots, and deduplication that are generally included with the hardware are now included in the software-defined-storage offered along with a centralized management platform.

Software-defined storage architecture can be deployed in various forms, which render software functionality to hardware across an environment. While choosing the best software-defined storage architecture for any enterprise, a few measurements need to be noted. The product opted should be integrated with, aligned with and should be a part of the hypervisor stack. Today, VMware provides Virtual SAN, a layer of software that is considered to be software-defined storage by organizations and is considered to be a part of a software stack. Virtual SAN assists enterprises to gather their storage capabilities along with automatically providing virtual machine storage via policies that are easy and driven by virtual machines. On the other hand, Hyper-V also known as Windows Server Virtualization is a hypervisor, assisting in creating virtual machines on specific windows run systems. Hyper-V consists of a cluster storage space which is written and developed by Microsoft and is integrated directly into its Hyper-V stack.

Other software defined architectural options comprises of third-party, hypervisor-agnostic products which can be used with VMware, KVM, Hyper-V or Citrix. The software products like Maxta, StoreMagic and StarWind Software are a few software products that perform similar functions and are better than the leading software defined storage vendors. These software provide similar functions but are not dedicated to a particular hypervisor. The storage space they create can be shared between different hypervisors.

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Virtual storage is another option to be considered as the software defined architecture. Virtual storage includes products like DataCore SANsymphony or IBM Spectrum Virtualize (formerly SAN Volume controller). DataCore SANsymphony is utilized to pool capacity across heterogeneous storage hardware and offers management features to a storage environment. Whereas IBM Spectrum Virtualize aids software-defined storage in the physical infrastructure to enhance the data value, simplicity, and security.

Among all the available software defined storage architecture, Storage Virtualization is considered the best. Storage virtualization is the method of clustering the physical storage from numerous network storage devices, which result to form a single storage device. The method is also known as cloud storage. Virtual storage facilitates easy backup, recovery tasks and archiving in a very efficient manner consuming less time. It aggregates the functions and conceals the actual complexity of the storage area network (SAN). Storage virtualization can be implemented to any level of a storage area network. It can be divided into four main layers that include storage devices, file or recorded layer, application layer and block aggregation layer. The major benefit of this type of software defined storage system is that it includes expansion of storage capacity, reduced time in manual supervision, easy updates, automated management and reduced downtime.

The above-mentioned software-defined storage types are of various modalities and they facilitate different needs accordingly. Storage administer who own an all-VMware shop, and who requires a sole vendor to control and access everything, might prefer a VMware-specific Virtual SAN. Therefore, each organization might require a specific type of software defined storage system accordingly.