Optimization Defined Storage (Storage Trends Part 1)

Recently I found myself engaged in a discussion on Twitter with @DuncanYB , @vcdxnz001 and @bendiq regarding Software Defined Storage (SDS) when I realized that our definitions might be approaching the issue from slightly different perspectives.  Therefore I decided it might be a prudent exercise to first explore these definitions so that we can have a common foundation to build from in this series. 

When I looked at the storage market I found 4-5 different categories of storage solutions that were all converging one way or another towards a common set of qualities and features.  I’ll be exploring these solutions in detail in part 2, but is this common set SDS or is it something else (and do we care)?

Whenever someone says they are going to define something it has an air of pretentiousness about it. Hopefully this post will not come across as such as my intent is to provide a workable definition that can be used for a future post (Part 2).   As an engineer who continues to evolve, I reverse the right to modify my definition in the future 🙂  But for now let’s proceed….

Note:  In the spirit of full disclosure my current employer is a NetApp partner.

Do Definitions Matter?  Why Define SDS?

This really is a great question and you might be surprised at my conclusion – I don’t think the definition of SDS is terribly relevant for most of us.  There is an academic definition which we could debate endlessly along with “what is cloud” and “what is the meaning of life?” before it would change again in about two years — yet this definition might only offer limited value to those making technology decisions and investments.  In short, SDS does speak to a set of characteristics but not necessarily to value and efficiency in any given environment.

A few years ago I wrote a post which defined cloud computing as Abstraction, Automation and Agility.  By Abstracting from the hardware level, we were able to provide a new API and control plane which could serve as a platform for Automation. Then with the proper use of Automation in the organization one could being to achieve measures of Agility.

With Software Defined Storage or SDS I think the same paradigm can apply.  First we must offer a level of abstraction which enables us to do more with the storage.  On top of this abstraction we need to add services that provide value and efficiency such as caching algorithms, dedupe algorithms, data protection (RAID or erasure coding), storage tiering, instant clones (no copy on write), snapshots, replication services and more.  Then we must have an addressable API to leverage as a control plane from which we can manage, control and ultimately automate.

Now many might just focus on a definition of SDS that simply revolves around abstraction and a control plane (RESTful API, etc). For example does SDS require deduplication?  I don’t think so, however I do think that this one of several key features that provides value that the industry is trending towards.  Perhaps we need an expanded definition of SDS that focuses on value and efficiency – leveraging the SDS foundation to provide efficiency, agility and value.

Optimization Defined Storage

ODSOptimization Defined Storage (ODS) then could be a definition of SDS that focuses on efficiency and value.  ODS would be built upon an SDS foundation, and then enabled with additional capabilities to add value, efficiency and optimization such as:

  • Deduplication (increases storage efficiency as well as performance benefits).
  • Caching and Storage Tiering (including flash)
  • Instant Clones and Snapshots (no copy-on-write)
  • Efficient Replication
  • Thin Provisioning

In an ODS solution, the software can work across many levels to optimize how data is compressed, deduped, cached and tiered.  One example is Nutanix’s Shadow Clone feature which combines cloning and caching functions by distributing “shadow clones” of volumes to be used as cache by additional nodes.

Another example is VMware’s VVOL initiative which intends to somewhat shift the control plane such that the VM and VMDK characteristics will define the LUN rather than vice versa – as well as allowing the SAN to perform snap and clone operations against VMDK’s versus LUNs.

There’s much more that could be done in this SDS/ODS space (whatever you want to call it) and we haven’t gotten to object based storage yet.  The bottom line is that the ODS definition is focused on leveraging the SDS foundation to provide value, efficiency and optimization.

Relative Levels of Hardware Abstraction

Some questions / arguments I’ve heard tossed around include “is Nutanix really SDS because they sell hardware” and this argument also extends to NetApp.

Nutanix provides many features I would qualify as ODS – dedupe, instant clones and more.  These features are provided by the software but Nutanix has chosen to make their platform dependent on their hardware (which uses commodity components).  Because the product is sold as proprietary hardware does that mean it’s not SDS?

I will argue that Nutanix is still SDS despite this.  They made a business and product decision to offer their product as a hardware device to improve support, procurement as well as to facilitate scale-out.  The SDS/ODS features provided are ultimately in the software and not in the hardware (commodity components).

Also what about NetApp’s ONTAP platform – does this qualify as SDS?  I think it does.  NetApp has provided features like compression, deduplication, thin provisioning, efficient snaps, clones and replication for some time now.  Yes this baked into NetApp FAS arrays but it’s really the ONTAP software platform that’s doing everything.  To take this a step further lets add the VSA (Virtual Storage Appliance) which allows you to front-end non-NetApp storage with the ONTAP platform.  Now let’s also add ONTAP Edge which allows you to add ONTAP capabilities to storage using a VMware virtual appliance which is obviously hardware agnostic.  When you consider this full context, I think we can reasonably conclude that the “magic” happens within ONTAP (software) and that this is indeed Software Defined Storage.

Let’s Get Out of The Weeds

We could debate various definitions of SDS/ODS forever as an academic exercise but this isn’t what I want to focus on.  My primary goal was to share my definition of SDS (and ODS) that I could leverage in my next post.  Part 2 will take a broader look at the storage industry and how various solutions are trying to approach SDS/ODS from various vantage points so that we can effecitvly compare them and understand how each provides value.  Some solutions will be more effective in one environment versus another.  Some solutions focus more on CAPEX while others focus more on OPEX.  We’ve only talked about Nutanix and NetApp so far but I’d also like to talk about VMware VSAN, PernixData FVP, EMC ViPR and more.  Hopefully this post will make more sense when I get around to writing  Storage Trends Part 2.

11 Responses to Optimization Defined Storage (Storage Trends Part 1)

  1. I am extremely impressed with your writing skills as well
    as with the layout on your blog. Is this a paid
    theme or did you customize it yourself? Anyway keep up
    the excellent quality writing, it’s rare to see a great blog like this one

  2. Finasteride on the other hand has been approved by Food and Drug Administration to treat enlargement of prostate.
    It is important to always make sure that your hair is well maintained
    by ensuring that the hair is kept clean. Hair loss is of concern to
    most people at one point in their lives.

    Feel free to visit my blog post :: capillus272 rotten tomatoes

  3. In December 2012, she was half way through her reconstructive procedure and has since become
    a symbol of hope for women suppressed by the Taliban, urging women to “never give up and don’t lose hope,” that “what happened, it’s part of me, part of my life and its all the time in my mind and with me. In 2009, men undergoing some sort of cosmetic surgery procedure rose eight percent. The physical and external benefits are very obvious.

    my web page: plastic surgery rochester ny

  4. Sabres jerseys cheap for mens kids and womens sale

  5. It is a safe product that is widely used in lotions and other cosmetic products to color and
    hydrate the skin. You can get positive results of golden brown color with the help these
    spray tanning products. Apparently evolutionarily attuned to sightings of these
    red bottomed fashion items, they began to swarm. A remote was shown of Conan at the spray tanning
    salon, going a bit crazy with a spray bottle, spraying all kinds of things including an iphone.
    * Cleanse your skin properly and dry it from a clean towel.

    The only way to achieve skin tan that has the same even tone all throughout the parts of
    your body that you want tanned is to have the best fake tan. Just as there are different forms of the
    tanning products, there are different shades and levels of prices.

    9 out of 10 times the spray tan solution is mostly a liquid.
    The secret to a gorgeous spray tan lies in the way you prepare your skin before tanning.
    This is the best type for women to carry as this
    will deliver enough electricity to allow you to run away as far as you can from your attacker.

    my web-site … fake tan offers

  6. Good day! I could have sworn I’ve been tto this site before but after checking through some of the post I realized it’s
    new to me. Anyhow, I’m definitely happy I found it annd
    I’ll be bookmarking and checking back often!

    Here is mmy web blog: Bronze dies pasta

  7. Apparently to have a pair of stilted shoes with shiny red bottoms is something sought after, a
    thing to be desired, a status item. It is now possible to buy
    spray on fake tan products for use in the home, but
    unless you have someone to help you to apply them they can be quite difficult to
    apply evenly. Dihydroxyacetone also has an effect on the amino acids and nucleic acids which is bad for the skin [ Most people lather on the fake tan before stepping out into the real sun, and ironically, that’s the problem. This keep stain from getting in your eyes and building up on your eye creases. Be sure to exfoliate prior to applying a spray tan product. t make you the regular tourist and as a result many holiday insurance companies won. This type of deficiency can lead to neural tube defects, especially during the first trimester. It really looked natural and after a few visits, I learned how to perfect the spray tan. Recently the spray tanning products are delivered using can which enclosed with latest tanning technology and because of the people. The company offers tanning lotion, cream, gel, tan maintainer, tan spray, body polisher, overnight self tanning lotion, ultra dark exfoliate, cleansing gel, hand and body wash, facial scrub, sunscreen, lip balm, aloe vera gel, ice finalizing gel, sunscreen glitter, and many other beauty products.

    Here is my weblog :: spray tan reviews

  8. Customers handle their own anti-freeze, flsh bulbs, and lighter fluid.
    Compare free instant online moving quotes and pick the
    best moving company based on services & price.
    • Must know how to assess injury risks that comes with hazardous manual handling.

    Feel free to visit my web site; document storage companies in south africa

  9. There are still business opportunities, even in the shaky housing
    market. Many people spend countless dollars on entertainment, sports or
    hobbies, but finding resources for an online business
    seems to elude them. That’s where you’ll want to spend your time (and money).

    Have a look at my website: social media marketing guidelines

  10. The basis for a diagnosis will start with a
    thorough examination by your veterinarian. To get hair
    loss reviews for both male as well as female hair loss treatments along with extensive advice ensure that you visit
    is a fellow sufferer of hair loss and highly recommends
    the revolutionary Hair – Max Laser Comb to stop thinning hair.
    However, pulling on a scab that was adherent to the skin usually dislodged
    the graft – often several days after pulling on a hair was

    My weblog :: capillus272 underwear for men

  11. These berries were even recently discussed by the popular Medicine Hunter show on Fox News, he explained the origin of maqui berries and why we should start incorporating extract of these berries in to
    our every day nutrition and diets to improve our antioxidant levels and help regulate
    and improve glucose tolerance. *These weight reduction treatments include oral h – CG
    or an injection of h – CGa drug, which has not been approved by the food and drug administration as
    safe and effective in the treatment of obesity or weight
    control. Which food is absolutely banned at the time of this diet is something that you need to know
    for what is best hcg diet.

    Here is my webpage weight loss road map hcg

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *