By Momchil Michailov, CEO and co-founder of Sanbolic
You’ve probably been flooded with sales pitches and articles about software-defined storage. Some of your more tech-savvy customers may even have asked you about it. But what does it mean, is it worth making part of your solution offerings, and how do you profit from it as a reseller?
To answer these questions, look beyond the buzzwords to how software-defined storage claims to deliver cost savings, scalability, flexibility, reliability, and vendor-neutrality to you and your customers.
Software-defined storage combines intelligent software with commodity servers and storage hardware to provide more flexible, scalable, high-performing storage—at a fraction of the cost of legacy products.
The term emerged from VMware’s Software-Defined Data Center vision. It’s an outgrowth of VMware’s success in server virtualization, which uses software to abstract logical servers from the physical hardware on which they run. Server virtualization cuts hardware costs by letting companies run more applications on fewer physical servers, add or eliminate virtual servers as needed and shift workloads among servers to increase performance or availability.
“Software-defined storage” brings the same benefits to storage. It slashes the amount your customers need to spend up-front on storage hardware and eases current storage and data management challenges such as provisioning, storage tiering, meeting service level agreements, backup, and disaster recovery. Traditional storage management software makes it difficult and expensive, at best, to reassign arrays to different physical or virtual servers, to mix and match storage vendors and to provide clustering and failover for high reliability. All this raises the cost of business for your customers, and makes it harder for them to respond to changing business needs.
Public Cloud for the Rest of Us
Many of your customers know that public cloud providers like Google and Facebook have found a better way to meet their storage needs. Facebook, for example, replaced NetApp storage with commodity hardware and its own Haystack file system for its image library. This architecture also cuts costs by using flash storage to accelerate metadata reads and writes and low-cost SATA drives for longer-term storage.
Much of the intelligent storage software used by these cloud providers is available as low-cost, easily modifiable open source code. However, most customers lack the skills or time to evaluate, configure, modify, and maintain this software or integrate it with hardware. The same is true for most resellers; especially if your business is still mostly traditional “break/fix” projects or you’re just starting to explore whether to offer Storage as a Service (SaaS).
Seeing this vacuum in the market, a growing number of vendors are offering storage management software that claims to give resellers and your customers the benefits of software-defined storage in an easier-to-use form. To assure yourself these vendors can deliver the benefits of software-defined storage, here are five questions to ask:
Focus on the Bottom Line
Today’s customers are being bombarded with marketing about how much money they can save, and how much more flexible they can be, with software-defined storage. Whether you build it for them or offer it as a service, remember that software-defined storage is not an SKU you stock from a vendor, but a set of capabilities. Make sure the technology you choose truly delivers those capabilities.
Sanbolic provides a software-defined data acceleration platform that eliminates the "storage tax" on application performance, availability and scalability. The company’s Melio platform combines a massively scalable distributed clustered file system with other advanced technologies to optimize data management across any enterprise infrastructure. For more information, visit www.sanbolic.com.