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How do you define software-defined storage?

By Kate Davis, @KateAtHP, WW Product Marketing Manager, HP StoreVirtual Storage


HP on software-defined storage: first the definition 


KateDavis.jpgThe other week, Calvin and I recorded a podcast to kickoff our discussion on software-defined storage.  As I mentioned then, I have been charged with voicing HP’s position on software-defined storage. So let’s get started now! 



It’s interesting how quickly companies have glommed on to the words of “software-defined whatever.” Obviously we are at a point in the technology lifecycle for data centers that we are in need of a common term to call our products. The software on our mobile devices are “apps,” but that term doesn’t extend well into the data center. It’s not robust enough to express the amount of services and innovation that the software brings to the infrastructure. Software-defined has given the industry a category to relate to.


So what’s the problem?


The problem is we have no industry definition. Many folks are already writing about this fact. I for one don’t think VMware had any idea how popular the “software-defined” term would become last August when it was used at VMworld as a way to introduce its new products and vision. But the buzzword term has taken on a life of its own and needs to be nailed down as the only thing we seem to all agree on is the acronym—SDDC, SDN, SDS... :-)  What I’m about to propose is what HP believes should be the industry definition for software-defined. I encourage you to comment on this as we need industry participation and alignment.


Let’s start with the high-level definition: software-defined data center


In words:The software-defined data center is one that builds upon a standards-based physical infrastructure with a layer of data and control services which ultimately enable capabilities within the application layer. The end goal is a converged infrastructure where advanced data and control services are delivered across servers, storage and networking creating a highly efficient and well performing system that is easily managed.


Now in graphic form with:

  • 1 part hardware
  • 1 part data and control services
  • 1 part management



I think we can all agree that software makes hardware do stuff; it defines its capabilities. And most are comfortable with the concept of converged infrastructure. What’s been missing is how to talk about the software layer that spreads across the various components of the infrastructure. My colleagues at HP have been very vocal about software-defined networking and the data center. Now it’s time to give some focus to storage.


Storage fits in to the model above in the data services piece—with the basics of snapshots, thin provisioning, storage pools, replication, etc. delivered via software to enhance a hardware infrastructure.


Here’s our definition outline


Software-defined storage:

  • Allows users to support traditional and emerging enterprise application storage  workloads
  • Deploys on independent off-the-shelf, industry-standard hardware and hypervisors
  • Eliminates the dependency on traditional storage hardware platforms


While we do have HP Storage products that can be categorized as software-defined storage, the definition proposed is not self-serving. Categories need to be broad. It’s easy to pigeonhole something for your own product to keep out competition and call yourself a leader in the space.


Now what do you think?


This series will continue over the next six months and will include voices from the community other than just mine. Please comment below or catch @HPStorageGuy or me, @KateAtHP, on Twitter if you are interested in joining the conversation. My next blog will be in a couple of weeks and will move into a discussion of the product layer.






Lynne VanArsdale | ‎04-03-2013 09:40 PM

Back in the day didn't we used to call this concept "Object Storage Device" or OSD?

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