Selling Software-Defined Storage: Not All File Systems Are the Same

Software-Defined Storage
Compuverde's Stefan Bernbo

Stefan Bernbo

By Stefan Bernbo, Founder and CEO, Compuverde

Google chief economist Hal Varian puts the astronomical explosion of data in perspective: “Between the dawn of civilization and 2003, we only created five exabytes [of data]; now we’re creating that amount every two days. By 2020, that figure is predicted to sit at 53 zettabytes (53 trillion gigabytes) – an increase of 50 times.”

This exponential growth has pushed traditional data-center storage architectures past the breaking point. Your customers are in search of modern storage solutions that don’t require the huge costs or time investments associated with linearly scaling legacy storage appliances. Even with all the time and expense involved, vertical storage architectures often contain bottlenecks that slow performance to an unacceptable level. This creates an opportunity to steward customers toward a new purchase and serve them with your knowledge of what the industry has to offer. Just make sure that you aren’t swayed by industry hype and misleading marketing.

Your First Step: Understand Software-Defined Storage

Software-defined storage (SDS) decouples the programming that controls storage-related tasks from the physical storage hardware and can dramatically reduce the costs associated with that hardware. Fewer, less-expensive servers can be used to improve both capacity and performance. Administration is simplified and made more flexible and efficient. SDS enables users to allocate and share storage assets across all workloads.

For these reasons, SDS has become a big hit. By 2020, anywhere from 70-80 percent of unstructured data will be stored and managed on lower-cost hardware supported by software-defined storage, according to a recent Gartner report.

File Systems: A Need, Not a Want

Eighty percent of today’s zettabytes of data is unstructured. It is widely understood that unstructured data is best managed with a file system, so storage solutions that offer file systems currently represent 80 percent of the market. For some reason, though, many SDS offerings focus solely on block or object store; few focus on file systems or do them well. Without a file system overlaying this data, it becomes very difficult to manage that data.

Each type of storage exists because it focuses on a specialty:

  • Block storage is used for storing virtual machines or databases.
  • Object storage is newer and used for machine-to-machine/IoT transactions and other applications that require extreme scalability. However, it isn’t much better than block when it comes to managing data.
  • File systems, though not as widely touted as the other two types of storage, are the best at handling unstructured data.

Now, some SDS providers claim to provide file systems with their offerings. However, these file systems are usually based on …

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