Redefining The Criteria For A Unified Storage Platform - InformationWeek
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Uday Boppana
Uday Boppana
Partner Perspectives

Redefining The Criteria For A Unified Storage Platform

As more companies move to a software-defined data center, their reliance on unified storage is fundamental to success.

Unified storage has long been talked about in the storage industry, but different vendors have offered their own interpretations of what it means. Unified storage can range from the basic claim where all protocols are supported but each has its own internal storage silo, to a truly unified system where storage is shared across multiple protocols, and storage and compute can be assigned to each protocol as needed. A truly unified storage system allows for dynamic allocation of storage and system resources to incoming workloads, resulting in better resource utilization and performance and delivering the maximum cost and operational benefits.

The advent of object storage, software-defined storage (SDS), open source, and scale-out technologies has made it even more important for CIOs and decision makers to better understand and redefine their evaluation criteria for building a unified storage platform. They need to understand and focus on the nuances of the criteria, incorporate these new technologies in the criteria, and perform a thorough evaluation of their options to pick a solution that delivers the maximum long-term benefit.

True SDS is a software component that is installable on industry-standard hardware and provides flexible data and management services. Industry-standard hardware provides the flexibility to choose the platform with right compute, storage, and other hardware capabilities based on user needs at lower cost and to realize the benefits of intelligent software. So-called unified storage from one-size fits-all, proprietary storage appliances comes preconfigured with hardware and lacks this flexibility and cost benefit. Open source technologies have their source code freely available to contributors and supporters from the community and commercial enterprises. Open source products for SDS coupled with industry-standard hardware provide flexibility and openness. The open source code and distributed community knowledge guarantee continuity and support that are crucial for investment protection without having to rely on a single company.

True SDS is also an enabler for building efficient scale-out architectures. SDS with support for commodity hardware enables linear scale-out storage spending as compared to step function-based spending for scale-out storage with high CapEx appliances. Traditional appliance-based, scale-out vendors scale their clusters in units of storage appliances, leading to unnecessary expense and underutilization. True on-demand addition of compute and storage resources for cluster expansion is only possible with SDS, as a cluster can be expanded with different types of nodes that provide different storage and compute capabilities at different costs based on workload and admin needs.

Finally, object storage is becoming pervasive, especially for unstructured data and for newer applications that deal with machine-generated data. The benefits of object storage have been well documented for different use cases. Since object storage is now the de-facto storage for the new generation of applications, it needs to be a built-in component of any unified storage solution, along with support for block and shared file system data.

The criteria for unified storage should no longer be a game of marketing. As more companies move to a software-defined data center, their reliance on unified storage is fundamental to success. A unified storage solution that is software-defined, supports scale-out on industry-standard hardware, has built-in support for object storage, and is open source offers amazing benefits that make traditional storage solutions inefficient for building the next-gen storage infrastructure. Unified storage platforms, including Ceph-based solutions such as Red Hat Ceph storage, can serve the needs of the current and next generation applications and offer the type of cost and operational efficiencies required by next generation workloads and the software-defined datacenters of tomorrow.

Uday Boppana has been in the data center and storage areas for 12+ years in different roles and has worked with a variety of technologies. He is currently a principal product manager at Red Hat, responsible for storage solutions with a focus on Red Hat Ceph storage and object ... View Full Bio
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