A Bridge Over Troubled (v)Storage

Every great technology shift requires the means to move from the old way of doing things to a new and vastly improved approach. A bridge, if you will.

We found that analogy very fitting while reading some interesting and thought-provoking articles on the storage industry. These are A Major Shift in the Data Storage Market is on the Horizon by Kalen Kimm of TweakTown, and Understanding Storage Architectures by Chad Sakac at VirtualGeek.

Both articles are ambitious (nearly 6,000 words combined!). Of the many observations, however, these lines from Kalen Kimm led us to comment:

“The shared visibility between compute, application, and storage is a large step forward to a true software-defined data center. Instead of having to pre-configure LUNs and then presenting them to applications to be consumed, applications will be able to consume storage on an as-needed basis.”

At Nexenta, we are obviously big believers in the software defined data center (SDDC), and the importance of software defined storage (SDS). The SDDC makes too much sense not to take hold; the only variables are around timing and adoption speed. We see VMware’s release of their Virtual SAN SDS solution as an important catalyst to address these variables. A larger player such as VMware can have significant impact on the way that enterprises run their datacenter.

A clear example of the impact is with networking. When VMware first released the hypervisor, all network switching was contained within the host and you were wholly dependent upon the physical switching layer from traditional companies, then the distributed virtual switch (DVS) was released. This allowed network segments to traverse hosts and spread throughout the virtualization cluster. This took switching to a software layer but then they added the Cisco 1000v as an option. The 1000v allowed management to be consistent throughout the data center, physical or virtual but still software based.

In our opinion, VSAN is the necessary bridge between legacy storage and a fully efficient SDS model. VSAN allows customers to utilize their existing internal storage and spread across hosts, similar to the DVS. What is missing is the next layer that allows software defined storage to traverse the entire data center. This is where VSAN bridges internal storage, then Nexenta extends the bridge across the data center. The ability to not only utilize the internal storage but also third party arrays and commodity hardware all presented to both physical and virtual machines.

Nexenta takes this one step further with NexentaConnect, our solution that simplifies the process of deploying a VDI solution. It is a combined all-in-one VDI automation, storage auto-deployment and storage acceleration solution. NexentaConnect can either be used in conjunction with or as an alternative to VSAN. Think of NexentaConnect this way, if you have VSAN in place then deploying your virtual desktops using local storage is a process of creating the VSAN, then using it much like any other traditional storage array. Using NexentaConnect, you deploy the storage only after looking at the desktop needs. This gives you end to end SDS.

The technology industry is famous for forcing customers into either/or decisions. But while vendors want customers to choose one product over another, customers very often need and want both. VSAN strikes us as a great example of a savvy vendor realizing that customers want both the comfort of their existing legacy storage system, and the gateway to SDS. The combination of VSAN and NexentaStor gives the combination that users are looking for.

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Nexenta is the global leader is Software-defined Storage.

Posted in Software-defined storage, Virtualization

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