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The Current Standing of the Software-Defined Storage Market

By CIOReview | Thursday, August 4, 2016

Software-defined storage (SDS) controls memory related tasks by using computer programs, making itself independent from harboring physical storage hardware devices. SDS includes virtualization that separates storage software from hardware to manage the storage infrastructure. SDS provides flexible management capabilities to company administrators through computer programming. Policy-based management simplifies the administration of storage resources, which are utilized more efficiently without any limitations of the physical system as it separates control plane from the data plane.

The software-defined storage landscape is packed with vendors shaping SDS definition to fulfill individual storage offerings, which makes it a vendor specific market. These divergent opinions among vendors about SDS in storage world are the driving force behind the current trends of the software-defined storage arena.

Driving Forces behind Current Software-Defined Storage Market Trends

In the past, storage systems software was attached to the hardware they managed. When the hardware ran out of capacity, it needs to be repurchased along with the new software licensing. Augmenting the current trend of rapid data growth and the need of storing the increasing amount of data; the current storage architectures made management of storage systems more complicated, expensive, and difficult to maintain.

The technological advancements are contributing to software-defined storage market as well. The improvements in x86 chipsets result in better architecture performance that lead to architectural standardization for storage systems. Additional factor assisting SDS is the universal acceptance of x86 virtualization servers that helps in the separation of data image from the hardware it was residing.

The increasing use of cloud technology also contributes as a primary driving factor for the current SDS market. The cloud data center requires latest and cost effective storage architecture based on the commodity hardware and industry standards. Server-side flash storage is the other technological factor behind the current SDS marketing trends. These technologies evolved as a differential factor between servers and storage hardware while providing flexible and portable storage software along with decreasing storage costs.

SDS Categories Present in Current Software-Defined Storage Market

Since the inception of software-based storage prototypes, various technologies have emerged in this market. These technologies have subdivided the SDS market into four sections, which have certain similarities and differences on the virtues of scalability, flexibility, simplicity, and performance. These categories are: 

  1. Hypervisor-based SDS

VMware is the leader in this category due to its innovation VMware vSphere Virtual SAN. Virtual SAN is designed as a part of vSphere, operating with all of the vSphere virtual desktops and virtual machines. Virtual SAN runs in the ESXi layer that means it is independent of VM for execution and virtual storage appliance.

  1. Hyper-converged infrastructure SDS

Hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) integrates the server, networking, hypervisor, and storage infrastructure, and assembles them in a single group. HCI is designed to get rid of DIY integration of high-priced hardware server, the need of high storage, complex storage management, hardware compatibility issues, and high availability issues.

  1. Storage virtualization SDS

Storage virtualization is the full-fledged SDS variation present in the software-defined storage market. Storage virtualization SDS is essentially a storage software stack that includes all storage services, upgraded according to x86 architecture and changed the hosts into powerful and fully-fledged storage controllers. It virtualizes external and server storage systems to current different capacities virtual systems along with performance characteristics and data protection policies. Essentially storage virtualization SDS changes x86 servers into storage systems, so that few products can be utilized as a virtual storage appliance. It is primarily a scale-up architecture but few products can scale-out as well. This architecture is meant to eliminate high-priced hardware; fully utilizing inexpensive server drives, reusing old storage systems and simplifying data migration.

  1. Scale-out object and/or file SDS

This approach is recently introduced in SDS market that manages data in form of objects containing, data, metadata, and a unique identifier. OpenStack Swift and Ceph are the two open-source variations along with other object storage players. Scale-out SDS is a highly scalable Network Attached Storage (NAS) with some specialties like unique metadata or object storage resilience.

SDS Market Future Resilience

It is estimated that software-defined storage market will rise from $1,409.7mn in 2014 to $6,217.6mn in 2019, at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 34.6 percent between 2014 and 2019. The healthcare, manufacturing, and financial services sectors will be the highest gainers of storage virtualization software. Asia Pacific is expected to exhibit more growth rates in upcoming years while North America will be the largest market in terms of revenue contribution.


The software-defined storage market is a broad concept in terms of marketing, with a possibility of a wide range of SDS market implementation possibilities. Every implementation scenario has pros and cons depending upon the business needs of individual clients. Software-defined storage solutions continue to extend and provide solutions according to the client demand. Selection of suitable SDS for the job needs a precise understanding of the installed application, with high-performance storage capacity, and desired skill set of the employees. It is also required to specifically understand the potential ability of software-defined storage market. Analysts also agree on the fact that products of software-defined storage market are very beneficial for the business processes. These SDS solutions are completely in software form and enable clients to be flexible and bring down Capital Expenditure (CAPEX) and Operating Expense (OPEX) that holds clients to invest in SDS.