Thinking about a software-defined storage solution leads every business to consider scalability and reliability. These characteristics should apply to everything we’re spending our money on.
However, every business needs to consider 8 important factors for software-defined storage solutions. We’re speaking about compatibility, management, capacity, integration, security, protocols, and protection.
What Is SDS?
SDS (Software-defined storage) is storage software that includes storage virtualization so that the software managing the hardware is separated and mostly independent. It’s storage management and provisioning so that information is stored more effectively.
Specifically, we can have SDS implementation via SAN (Storage area network) with multiple disk arrays connected in a network at disposal for storage, or it can be something like NAS (Network-attached storage) which is a server.
There’s also a possibility of implementing SDS using OBS (Object-based storage). SDS means that there’s a storage optimization of resources at our disposal to benefit the overall system. The software is doing the optimization.
Software and Hardware Compatibility
Understanding SDS, we also need to know that, like most software, it needs to be compatible with the hardware it’s running on. Further, the businesses using it need it to be compatible with their existing systems.
Unfortunately, til 7 years ago, new hardware didn’t have automatic compatibility with SDS. This means that you couldn’t simply use the system without figuring out the exact drivers you need for it to work.
Luckily, most software virtualization solutions are compatible with Windows and Linux operating systems, which can be found running most servers and clients. So, compatibility shouldn’t be an issue, but it also shouldn’t be overlooked.
Software-Defined Storage Management
Software-defined storage expands opportunities for managing your storage hardware. This includes optimizing the hardware for the desired performance. Consider these management traits in SDS:
- Deduplication: A necessary feature of software-defined storage because there’s no need for the storage to be clogged with duplicate data. This removes the redundant data from the storage.
- QoS: The quality of service feature for storage is much like the one for networks. It makes sure your software-defined storage optimizes every bit of hardware storage so that all pieces get equal quality service.
- Automatic tiering: Because SDS uses underlying hardware components, and there are different hardware according to speed, e.g. SSD, SATA, SAS, etc., this feature stores the most frequently retrieved data to the fastest drives.
- Integration: Perhaps the most important feature is the integration feature. SDS solutions need to integrate with the cloud with no problem. The integration allows for the temporary storage of cold, outdated bits of information that might be necessary later on.
- Predictive analysis: Always consider a software-defined storage solution that comes with predictive analytics. This allows for forecasting problems that may occur in your storage, but also the data retention, the collected data, etc.
Requirements and Capacity
Every business or any form of enterprise that’s going to implement an SDS needs to consider the requirements. This includes the capacity, the servers, the apps, the clients, and more:
- Throughput: It relates to how many information units can the software-defined storage process in a certain amount of time. It’s an extremely important factor because it affects the storage speed.
- Latency: The time it takes before the retrieval of data. Once you put in a request for a bit of information on your storage, this is going to be the time from the request point to the reaching point (when you receive it).
- Baseline and peak IOP: The number of operations regarding input and output your storage devices can complete in a second. It applies to most hardware storage, think about both the baseline IOP and the peak IOP.
- Processing queue: It relates to how long the queue can be for the data waiting to be processed in your SDS, meaning you’re looking at the capabilities of the existing hardware in your company.
Data Protection and Disaster Recovery
Finally, a key aspect to consider when looking for a software-defined solution is data protection. The security of a business’s data is paramount because it’s not necessarily only corporate data, but client data as well. So, consider these:
- Encryption: The data needs to be secure when traveling and while on the drive array. This means that the SDS needs to have encryption for any data being transmitted, i.e. in-transit data, and the data on the hardware.
- Recovery point objective: This is the amount of data you want to recover after something similar to a disaster or a failure happens. It’s the maximum load, and it should encompass the data your organization cannot afford to lose.
- Recovery time objective: This is the time an organization or an enterprise can allow itself to continue working after a disaster occurs. It’s the frame of time that doesn’t entail considerable losses for the business.
- Snapshot recovery features: System recovery features that are there to repair the SDS itself. It’s protection for the thing running your software-defined storage or the system that’s the basis of operations in your business. The snapshot is the point to which your systems recover.
Pricing and Support
Businesses and enterprises should always look for products or solutions that come with support. Pricing is important, but it’s nothing if you cannot count on the support of the provider when something goes haywire.
Before choosing an SDS solution, take into consideration their working hours, how they react to certain issues, and how likely are they to prioritize your case. After all, you are a client that deserves quality service.
It’s easy to choose a software-defined storage solution when you consider the pricing and support availability. However, you need to dig deeper and think about data protection, storage management, compatibility, and capacity. Finally, it all amounts to how reliable and scalable you need it to be.