What is Software Defined Storage?

Software Defined Storage (SDS) has become storage industry’s popular technological trend of recent times. Although, many are familiar with this technology, they are still some people who are confused with this term.

In reality, there is no single industry-wide consensus over the precise definition of the term “Software defined Storage”. But the term is pretty simple and self-explanatory – a software layer providing storage services like deduplication, replication, snapshots and thin provisioning, using underlying but independent hardware is called as ‘Software Defined Storage (SDN)’.

Usually, it can be confused with storage virtualization by assuming that the functions of these two technological concepts are one and the same, which is incorrect. Storage virtualization allows clubbing of storage devices into a single pool, where it appears to be as a single device.  Whereas, software defined storage is separating the storage features or services from the storage device.

The term ‘Software Defined Storage’ is relatively new as it was virtually unknown almost a few years ago. It is a way of looking at storage not from the disk or flash perspective, but rather than how storage services are offered separate from hardware.

Previously, storage was looked in terms of disk capacity, hardware and access speed. But now software defined storage is seen as a software layer and the value it presents on hardware.

When all the virtualized storage, server, networking and security resources can be provisioned in an automated way it leads to software defined storage model. This means that the storage system is defined by the software which runs on it. In other words, the intelligence with which physical storage hardware is driven on a storage platform leads to SDS.

So, where exactly this Software defined storage fit into? Well, it can be served as an application on a server and delivered as a part of an operating system or Hypervisor. Some SDS’s are vendor specific, while some are open source.

SDN is causing a power shift in the storage business from innovation standpoint and away from large as well as more conventional hardware focused storage vendors. Large storage vendors are not giving support to software defined storage as it will trigger the storage functionality migration to software layer. Whereas, startups and smaller software focused vendors are supporting this concept in order to replace legacy storage hardware with servers, disk drives and flash storage.

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