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December 2015, IDC #IDCWP24X
White Paper
Software-Defined Storage Accelerates Storage Cost
Reduction and Service-Level Optimization
Sponsored by: DataCore
Carla Arend Nick Sundby
December 2015
IDC OPINION
According to a recent IDC survey, more than 25% of organizations have already invested in
software-defined storage (SDS) solutions in 2015, and a further 40% of organizations are
evaluating options. This is in line with a number of recent IDC conversations with IT executives that
are looking to develop their next-generation storage architectures to keep up with increasing
business demands while reducing IT costs.
SDS is a similar concept to server virtualization, where IT managers can use standard x86 building
blocks or a heterogeneous set of storage hardware and present it as one storage pool to the
applications. The characteristics of this storage pool (block, file, object, etc.) can be defined at the
software layer. This emerging storage architecture is currently getting a lot of interest from IT and
storage managers, as they are trying to drive down storage cost to free up IT budget for innovation-
related projects, while improving service levels and operational efficiency.
The need for responsive, resilient, flexible, yet cost-effective storage services independent of the
hardware models and manufacturers chosen has never been greater. Companies of all sizes are
experiencing relentless data growth driven by more demanding business applications and by the
expanding base of users on virtual desktops and mobile devices, all connected to the Internet of
Things. This expanding universe collects vast amounts of data for businesses to analyze in order
for them to better understand their customers and help them react and communicate through social
networks. To stay competitive businesses need to be able to quickly access relevant information;
therefore they are looking for new ways to capture, store, protect, and manage all of the company
data with a more operationally efficient and lower-cost storage architecture.
SDS solutions offer a promising new approach to deal with these challenges. SDS enables
companies to take better advantage of existing storage investments, easily incorporate new high-
speed flash-based storage technologies, and leverage commodity hardware savings. These
objectives are accomplished by removing dependencies on expensive, proprietary hardware
through an independent software services layer that optimizes the use of these devices
infrastructurewide and thus delivers sharply improved price/performance/manageability
characteristics.
The mainstream storage vendors have arguably failed to meet the needs of today's companies,
choosing instead to perpetuate proprietary storage systems with locked-in functions. Many of them
are struggling to change their roadmaps to include SDS solutions. They, along with numerous
startups, are indiscriminately applying the term "SDS" to hardware-centric products.
In this document, IDC assesses DataCore in the SDS space. DataCore is one of the leading
providers of hardware-independent storage virtualization software. Its customers are actively
leveraging the benefits of software-defined storage in IT environments ranging from very large
©2015 IDC #IDCWP24X 2
datacenters to more modest computer rooms, thereby getting better use from storage equipment
already in place. IDC believes that SDS is going to become the preferred architecture for storage
environments in the near future, and DataCore is well positioned to help customers make the
transition rapidly and smoothly.
IN THE WHITE PAPER
This IDC White Paper discusses the emerging storage architecture of software-defined storage
and how DataCore enables its customers to take advantage of it today.
SITUATION OVERVIEW
A major transformation is underway which IDC calls the move to the 3rd Platform. Four major
forces are changing the way we use IT to do our jobs. The new ways in which we collaborate and
do business through cloud services, social business, mobile devices, and Big Data analytics
demand an accompanying fundamental change in the underlying IT infrastructure. Analytics is
done in real time, data is consumed through a variety of devices from the cloud, and
communication takes place on social platforms — this puts a significant strain on the IT
infrastructure to provide the required performance and at the same time drive down operational
cost to free up funding for new (mobile) application development.
IT managers striving to deliver responsive IT as a service to their users to gain a competitive edge
recognize that their storage architecture can make or break the IT infrastructure. IDC has found,
however, that mainstream datacenter storage has not yet undergone the dramatic transformation
needed.
Storage architectures need to change to keep up with the changes in the overall IT infrastructure.
Data is no longer exclusively located in disk drives on a server or in a storage array; today flash-
based technologies and cloud storage are now part of the storage spectrum. To take advantage of
the broad range of available storage technologies and to place data on the appropriate
price/performance storage, automated storage tiering is an essential functionality of a next-
generation storage architecture.
The time has now come to fundamentally improve the storage architecture by abstracting the
storage services from the underlying hardware devices in a similar model to server virtualization.
Doing this frees storage to be provisioned by policy and allows IT managers to selectively
substitute low-cost, commodity storage hardware in place of expensive proprietary systems during
each refresh and expansion opportunity. The result is more flexible, more automated operations
with built-in resiliency and disaster recovery at a significantly lower price point than was possible in
the past.
Figure 1 shows the top storage priorities for 2015. As companies are working through their digital
transformation agendas, they see the need for increased storage performance to improve the
customer and user experience. Data protection and compliance are top of mind for IT
organizations around the world, particularly in view of the pending European Union data protection
regulation. Reducing storage-related cost has been a top priority for many years and remains one
of the key challenges in the midst of increasing capacity and performance expectations. Only a
new storage architecture will make this possible while maintaining the continuous availability of
virtual machine images and improving disaster avoidance. SDS allows IT and storage managers to
lower the cost of retaining data while enabling organizations to comply with data protection
regulations.
©2015 IDC #IDCWP24X 3
FIGURE 1
2015 Storage Priorities
Note: n = 556
Source: IDC's 2015 Storage Survey
Periodic upgrades, equipment failures, capacity expansion, and new technology injection also
present major challenges, as they severely interrupt today's "always on" business environment. It
therefore becomes necessary for any new architecture to allow portions of the infrastructure to be
temporarily out-of-service while IT operations continue without interruption. Moreover, IT managers
can no longer afford the disruption and expense of ripping out and replacing major parts of their
storage infrastructure every few years to keep up with new technology.
SDS: THE NEW WAY TO TACKLE STORAGE CHALLENGES
SDS separates the advanced storage services from the hardware on which the data is stored,
eliminating the hardware lock-in and rigidity associated with legacy designs. The change is directly
comparable to the virtualization of servers, where users can provision underlying compute
resources as required and relocate virtual machines without concern for failure and turnover of the
physical servers being deployed.
IDC defines SDS as follows (see IDC's Worldwide Storage Software Taxonomy, 2015, IDC
#256418, June 2015, for more detail):
Software-defined storage (SDS) are platforms that deliver the full suite of storage
services via a software stack that uses (but is not dependent on) commodity
hardware built with off-the-shelf components.
The key characteristics of an SDS solution are that it:
 Does not require any proprietary hardware components
 Should be able to run on multiple (virtual and physical) hardware instances
 Is a standalone or autonomous system
0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50%
Enhance disaster recovery plans
Expand storage capacity
Reduce storage-related costs
Ensure data retention and
compliance
Improve storage performance
2015 2014
©2015 IDC #IDCWP24X 4
Unfortunately, with many vendors introducing very narrow implementations of SDS, IT managers
run the risk of creating isolated islands of SDS — one SDS product for virtual SANs, one tied to a
specific hypervisor, another for flash devices, yet another for managing heterogeneous storage
arrays, and so on. The benefits of SDS will only be reaped if the solution handles the entire storage
estate from DRAM caches, to flash, to disk subsystems, to cloud, under one management regime.
CURRENT ADOPTION OF SDS
IDC sees significant interest in SDS solutions throughout modern IT organizations, with good
reason.
FIGURE 2
Current Adoption of Software-Defined Storage Technologies
Q. Which statement best describes your organization's interest in software-defined storage?
Note: n = 556
Source: IDC's 2015 Storage Survey
In IDC's recent 2015 storage survey, 24% of respondents have already implemented an SDS
solution, while 41% are currently evaluating SDS options and an additional 25% are interested in
learning more about SDS. The pressure to reduce storage cost while expanding capacity and
enhancing performance encourages IT managers to quickly become more knowledgeable on this
new approach.
EXPECTED BENEFITS OF SDS
Figure 3 shows that extending the life of existing storage assets is among the top benefits
expected from deploying SDS. Even though many IT managers used to believe that "storage is
cheap" due to the continuous decline of the price per GB, they are now realizing that storage
makes up a disproportionally high percentage of their IT spending.
0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50%
Not familiar with the technology
Not interested
Interested, but no concrete plans
Evaluating options
Already invested in it
2015 2014
©2015 IDC #IDCWP24X 5
Automation of frequent storage operations is another expected benefit and a sorely needed feature
for IT managers, as they are struggling with difficult and device-specific manual tasks in siloed
storage infrastructures. SDS helps resolve this issue by providing a single software layer that can
manage various different storage brands and models, and automate core storage operations
through policy-based management.
In addition, IT managers see SDS as a viable way to avoid vendor lock-in and significantly reduce
operational costs incurred from planned and unplanned downtime and the recurring management
of their mushrooming storage estate.
FIGURE 3
Drivers for Software-Defined Storage Adoption
Q. What are the drivers behind migration to software-defined storage? Choose all that apply.
Note: n = 502
Source: IDC's 2015 Storage Survey
DATACORE'S SDS STRATEGY
DataCore was delivering on the vision of SDS — managing heterogeneous storage hardware with
an intelligent software layer using standard x86 server hardware — long before it was called SDS.
Consequently, DataCore's 10th generation software platform offers broad coverage, spanning
server-attached storage, flash devices, SAN arrays, NAS, cloud-based assets, and hyper-
converged infrastructure.
DataCore layers a set of advanced storage services across the infrastructure, so that they become
persistent, stable, and automated, irrespective of the comings and goings of the underlying storage
hardware. This enables IT managers to upgrade storage hardware as needed and eliminates
hardware lock-in.
DataCore uniformly controls how diverse storage resources are provisioned and protected as
shareable virtual pools, dynamically matching workloads to the appropriate tier of storage. This
effectively standardizes management across different models and generations of storage
technology, all with a single management pane, driving down the operational cost and complexity
0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50%
Simplify management and
administration
Lower cost using industry-standard
HW
Avoid vendor lock-in
Automation of frequent storage
operations
Extend life of existing storage assets
2015 2014
©2015 IDC #IDCWP24X 6
of managing storage. DataCore customers can pool and increase the utilization of their existing
network-attached storage arrays, deferring the need to purchase additional capacity for years.
There are two key features of DataCore's SDS platform:
 Its ability to speed up the performance of applications with its adaptive parallel I/O
architecture. Parallel I/O, along with a suite of performance features, including self-tuning
caching and auto-tiering across a diversity of disk and flash technologies from different
vendors, enables IT managers to provide faster performance without investing in additional
or exotic storage hardware.
 Its ability to create an active-active mirror of data across heterogeneous storage which can
be stretched across distances of up to 100km. If any faults occur with the storage
hardware or facility, DataCore automatically switches data access to the other, active
storage — a "zero touch" process as it is fully automatic, without requiring any script or
manual intervention. This circumvents hardware and facility outages without interrupting IT
service delivery, driving RTO/RPO down to zero for storage-related failures.
DATACORE TECHNOLOGY OVERVIEW
DataCore's flagship product is SANsymphony-V, a storage services platform that provides storage
virtualization capabilities. It is used by more than 10,000 customers around the world to accelerate
the performance, achieve continuous availability, and gain optimal utilization from their IT
infrastructure. In addition, DataCore recently introduced a new Virtual SAN offering that leverages
its SDS platform for hyper-converged deployments.
KEY DIFFERENTIATORS AND CAPABILITIES
DataCore's SDS platform is well adapted to today's IT challenges. Now in its 10th generation, the
platform provides the following:
 Improved automation. DataCore automates the provisioning and management of storage
regardless of its location. It spans hyper-converged (server DAS), flash devices, networked
storage (NAS), SAN arrays, and cloud storage under one management framework. This
enables IT managers to consolidate point products (for example in virtual environments)
under one comprehensive management regime, thus increasing operational efficiency.
 Simple deployment and scaling. Customers can start with a small hyper-converged Virtual
SAN deployment using the internal flash and disks of their application servers and can
expand to cover various brands of storage arrays, converged systems, hypervisors, and
flash technologies. Deployments range from a single Virtual SAN starting with just two
nodes to large, enterprise-scale deployments covering many petabytes. The benefit of
DataCore's seamless, integrated platform is that companies can have just one, easy-to-
manage storage architecture.
 Automated data placement and tiering. DataCore automates the placement of data
according to the performance requirements and cost profile of the application workload.
With these capabilities, hot data is placed close to the application in the flash memory and
moved into networked storage or into the cloud when it is less frequently accessed. This
capability helps customers to keep storage cost down while ensuring the required
performance for critical workloads to deliver a great user experience.
 Greater performance. With its high-performance architecture combining storage
virtualization and parallel I/O technology, DataCore accelerates I/O to a point that
application users notice the improvement. DataCore enables customers to take advantage
©2015 IDC #IDCWP24X 7
of the emerging flash technologies and to integrate them into the existing storage
infrastructure, where they can become one of the 15 possible storage tiers that it controls.
The software adaptively caches read and write traffic and enables automatic failover
protection to a mirrored copy of the data to prevent flash from becoming a single point of
failure.
 Better availability and automated failover across disparate storage. DataCore creates a
synchronous mirror across multiple storage devices, ensuring that any fault (in the storage
device, the network, or the facility) does not disrupt data access. By utilizing
heterogeneous storage, DataCore allows existing storage arrays to be part of the mirror,
driving down TCO.
 Consolidation density and infrastructure cost savings. With adaptive parallel I/O, DataCore
removes the I/O bottleneck impacting the degree of consolidation that is practical for
machines and application workloads running within virtualized infrastructures. DataCore's
ability to harness idle multicore processors on servers enables significant VM
consolidation and reduces the number of servers needed within clusters. With most IT
infrastructure, I/O bottlenecks force workloads, especially enterprise applications and
databases, to become distributed. DataCore's adaptive parallel I/O software utilizes the
inherent multiprocessor and multicore capabilities of standard x86 servers to service and
scale up the I/O. The performance improvements and greater utilization of processing
capabilities, as seen by industry standard benchmarks and customer feedback, enable
companies to meet virtualization's promise to "do more with less,” run I/O-intensive
enterprise applications, and create highly dense clusters, reducing the amount of IT
infrastructure and associated complexity and costs needed to run the same set of
workloads.
FUTURE OUTLOOK
IDC expects SDS to become the new standard for designing next-generation storage architectures
as they solve the problem of rapidly storing, retrieving, and updating explosive data volumes and
simultaneously lowering storage cost (both capex and opex) while preventing storage-related
downtime.
SDS will enable organizations to take advantage of a wide range of storage options, from the
compute layer to flash to spinning disk, as well as several different interfaces, like block, file,
object, and cloud-based storage. IDC is already seeing SDS employed in business-critical
workloads among diverse datacenters.
SDS is a crucial component for IT managers striving to provide IT as a service. It enables them to
maintain a seamless presentation layer of the storage infrastructure and to rapidly and effortlessly
provision resources — including storage — from their datacenter automation software platform.
CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES FOR DATACORE
The biggest challenge for DataCore is the tendency for some customers to first consider point
products provided by their incumbent storage hardware supplier or by their preferred server
hypervisor vendor instead of opting for a comprehensive approach from the onset. However, those
customers will soon realize the need to consolidate their isolated data islands to achieve greater
levels of performance, availability, operational efficiency, and cost reduction. Starting small but
thinking big from the onset is a best practice that IDC has observed. Many IT and storage
managers start by implementing SDS for a specific project or part of their infrastructure. The
successful ones choose an approach that enables them to roll out the SDS architecture throughout
most if not all of their IT infrastructure over time.
©2015 IDC #IDCWP24X 8
The fact that many influential vendors are now promoting SDS creates an ideal opportunity for
DataCore to capitalize on the demand. The storage virtualization market had for a long time been
controlled by a few hardware vendors, leaving little room for software-centric companies to
maneuver. With the move toward SDS, hardware-independent, software-based approaches like
DataCore's are expected to dominate the new storage landscape.
CONCLUSION
The transition to the 3rd Platform is rapidly transforming the IT environment of most companies.
This has a huge impact on the requirements for more cost-effective yet high-performance storage.
SDS represents a major and necessary shift in storage acquisition and operational practices to
bring them in line with the attractive way that servers are now procured and managed.
DataCore is one of the leading SDS vendors. Its storage services platform (available as
SANsymphony-V or Virtual SAN) is recognized globally with over 10,000 customers actively
enjoying accelerated performance, continuous availability, and optimal resource utilization.
DataCore has a proven solution, built on more than 15 years of expertise in demanding datacenter
scenarios, and the company offers pre-sales and technical support to back it up. As a measure of
its quality, it is worth noting that the company's large installed base is particularly well represented
in Germany, where such attributes are a prerequisite to competing successfully.
SDS is long-overdue given that speed, cost-effectiveness, flexibility, and resilience are now
mandatory requirements. There is a strong awareness of the need to change among IT managers
eager to deliver IT-as-a-service and superior IT experiences to their users, be it on modern lines of
business applications, virtual desktops, mobile devices, Big Data, or the cloud.
About IDC
International Data Corporation (IDC) is the premier global provider of market intelligence, advisory
services, and events for the information technology, telecommunications and consumer technology
markets. IDC helps IT professionals, business executives, and the investment community make
fact-based decisions on technology purchases and business strategy. More than 1,100 IDC
analysts provide global, regional, and local expertise on technology and industry opportunities and
trends in over 110 countries worldwide. For 50 years, IDC has provided strategic insights to help
our clients achieve their key business objectives. IDC is a subsidiary of IDG, the world's leading
technology media, research, and events company.
IDC U.K.
5th Floor, Ealing Cross,
85 Uxbridge Road
London
W5 5TH, United Kingdom
44.208.987.7100
Twitter: @IDC
idc-insights-community.com
www.idc.com
Copyright Notice
This IDC research document was published as part of an IDC continuous intelligence service, providing
written research, analyst interactions, telebriefings, and conferences. Visit www.idc.com to learn more about
IDC subscription and consulting services. To view a list of IDC offices worldwide, visit www.idc.com/offices.
Please contact the IDC Hotline at 800.343.4952, ext. 7988 (or +1.508.988.7988) or sales@idc.com for
information on applying the price of this document toward the purchase of an IDC service or for information on
additional copies or Web rights. [trademark]
Copyright 2015 IDC. Reproduction is forbidden unless authorized. All rights reserved.

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Software-Defined Storage Accelerates Storage Cost Reduction and Service-Level Optimization

  • 1. December 2015, IDC #IDCWP24X White Paper Software-Defined Storage Accelerates Storage Cost Reduction and Service-Level Optimization Sponsored by: DataCore Carla Arend Nick Sundby December 2015 IDC OPINION According to a recent IDC survey, more than 25% of organizations have already invested in software-defined storage (SDS) solutions in 2015, and a further 40% of organizations are evaluating options. This is in line with a number of recent IDC conversations with IT executives that are looking to develop their next-generation storage architectures to keep up with increasing business demands while reducing IT costs. SDS is a similar concept to server virtualization, where IT managers can use standard x86 building blocks or a heterogeneous set of storage hardware and present it as one storage pool to the applications. The characteristics of this storage pool (block, file, object, etc.) can be defined at the software layer. This emerging storage architecture is currently getting a lot of interest from IT and storage managers, as they are trying to drive down storage cost to free up IT budget for innovation- related projects, while improving service levels and operational efficiency. The need for responsive, resilient, flexible, yet cost-effective storage services independent of the hardware models and manufacturers chosen has never been greater. Companies of all sizes are experiencing relentless data growth driven by more demanding business applications and by the expanding base of users on virtual desktops and mobile devices, all connected to the Internet of Things. This expanding universe collects vast amounts of data for businesses to analyze in order for them to better understand their customers and help them react and communicate through social networks. To stay competitive businesses need to be able to quickly access relevant information; therefore they are looking for new ways to capture, store, protect, and manage all of the company data with a more operationally efficient and lower-cost storage architecture. SDS solutions offer a promising new approach to deal with these challenges. SDS enables companies to take better advantage of existing storage investments, easily incorporate new high- speed flash-based storage technologies, and leverage commodity hardware savings. These objectives are accomplished by removing dependencies on expensive, proprietary hardware through an independent software services layer that optimizes the use of these devices infrastructurewide and thus delivers sharply improved price/performance/manageability characteristics. The mainstream storage vendors have arguably failed to meet the needs of today's companies, choosing instead to perpetuate proprietary storage systems with locked-in functions. Many of them are struggling to change their roadmaps to include SDS solutions. They, along with numerous startups, are indiscriminately applying the term "SDS" to hardware-centric products. In this document, IDC assesses DataCore in the SDS space. DataCore is one of the leading providers of hardware-independent storage virtualization software. Its customers are actively leveraging the benefits of software-defined storage in IT environments ranging from very large
  • 2. ©2015 IDC #IDCWP24X 2 datacenters to more modest computer rooms, thereby getting better use from storage equipment already in place. IDC believes that SDS is going to become the preferred architecture for storage environments in the near future, and DataCore is well positioned to help customers make the transition rapidly and smoothly. IN THE WHITE PAPER This IDC White Paper discusses the emerging storage architecture of software-defined storage and how DataCore enables its customers to take advantage of it today. SITUATION OVERVIEW A major transformation is underway which IDC calls the move to the 3rd Platform. Four major forces are changing the way we use IT to do our jobs. The new ways in which we collaborate and do business through cloud services, social business, mobile devices, and Big Data analytics demand an accompanying fundamental change in the underlying IT infrastructure. Analytics is done in real time, data is consumed through a variety of devices from the cloud, and communication takes place on social platforms — this puts a significant strain on the IT infrastructure to provide the required performance and at the same time drive down operational cost to free up funding for new (mobile) application development. IT managers striving to deliver responsive IT as a service to their users to gain a competitive edge recognize that their storage architecture can make or break the IT infrastructure. IDC has found, however, that mainstream datacenter storage has not yet undergone the dramatic transformation needed. Storage architectures need to change to keep up with the changes in the overall IT infrastructure. Data is no longer exclusively located in disk drives on a server or in a storage array; today flash- based technologies and cloud storage are now part of the storage spectrum. To take advantage of the broad range of available storage technologies and to place data on the appropriate price/performance storage, automated storage tiering is an essential functionality of a next- generation storage architecture. The time has now come to fundamentally improve the storage architecture by abstracting the storage services from the underlying hardware devices in a similar model to server virtualization. Doing this frees storage to be provisioned by policy and allows IT managers to selectively substitute low-cost, commodity storage hardware in place of expensive proprietary systems during each refresh and expansion opportunity. The result is more flexible, more automated operations with built-in resiliency and disaster recovery at a significantly lower price point than was possible in the past. Figure 1 shows the top storage priorities for 2015. As companies are working through their digital transformation agendas, they see the need for increased storage performance to improve the customer and user experience. Data protection and compliance are top of mind for IT organizations around the world, particularly in view of the pending European Union data protection regulation. Reducing storage-related cost has been a top priority for many years and remains one of the key challenges in the midst of increasing capacity and performance expectations. Only a new storage architecture will make this possible while maintaining the continuous availability of virtual machine images and improving disaster avoidance. SDS allows IT and storage managers to lower the cost of retaining data while enabling organizations to comply with data protection regulations.
  • 3. ©2015 IDC #IDCWP24X 3 FIGURE 1 2015 Storage Priorities Note: n = 556 Source: IDC's 2015 Storage Survey Periodic upgrades, equipment failures, capacity expansion, and new technology injection also present major challenges, as they severely interrupt today's "always on" business environment. It therefore becomes necessary for any new architecture to allow portions of the infrastructure to be temporarily out-of-service while IT operations continue without interruption. Moreover, IT managers can no longer afford the disruption and expense of ripping out and replacing major parts of their storage infrastructure every few years to keep up with new technology. SDS: THE NEW WAY TO TACKLE STORAGE CHALLENGES SDS separates the advanced storage services from the hardware on which the data is stored, eliminating the hardware lock-in and rigidity associated with legacy designs. The change is directly comparable to the virtualization of servers, where users can provision underlying compute resources as required and relocate virtual machines without concern for failure and turnover of the physical servers being deployed. IDC defines SDS as follows (see IDC's Worldwide Storage Software Taxonomy, 2015, IDC #256418, June 2015, for more detail): Software-defined storage (SDS) are platforms that deliver the full suite of storage services via a software stack that uses (but is not dependent on) commodity hardware built with off-the-shelf components. The key characteristics of an SDS solution are that it:  Does not require any proprietary hardware components  Should be able to run on multiple (virtual and physical) hardware instances  Is a standalone or autonomous system 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% Enhance disaster recovery plans Expand storage capacity Reduce storage-related costs Ensure data retention and compliance Improve storage performance 2015 2014
  • 4. ©2015 IDC #IDCWP24X 4 Unfortunately, with many vendors introducing very narrow implementations of SDS, IT managers run the risk of creating isolated islands of SDS — one SDS product for virtual SANs, one tied to a specific hypervisor, another for flash devices, yet another for managing heterogeneous storage arrays, and so on. The benefits of SDS will only be reaped if the solution handles the entire storage estate from DRAM caches, to flash, to disk subsystems, to cloud, under one management regime. CURRENT ADOPTION OF SDS IDC sees significant interest in SDS solutions throughout modern IT organizations, with good reason. FIGURE 2 Current Adoption of Software-Defined Storage Technologies Q. Which statement best describes your organization's interest in software-defined storage? Note: n = 556 Source: IDC's 2015 Storage Survey In IDC's recent 2015 storage survey, 24% of respondents have already implemented an SDS solution, while 41% are currently evaluating SDS options and an additional 25% are interested in learning more about SDS. The pressure to reduce storage cost while expanding capacity and enhancing performance encourages IT managers to quickly become more knowledgeable on this new approach. EXPECTED BENEFITS OF SDS Figure 3 shows that extending the life of existing storage assets is among the top benefits expected from deploying SDS. Even though many IT managers used to believe that "storage is cheap" due to the continuous decline of the price per GB, they are now realizing that storage makes up a disproportionally high percentage of their IT spending. 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% Not familiar with the technology Not interested Interested, but no concrete plans Evaluating options Already invested in it 2015 2014
  • 5. ©2015 IDC #IDCWP24X 5 Automation of frequent storage operations is another expected benefit and a sorely needed feature for IT managers, as they are struggling with difficult and device-specific manual tasks in siloed storage infrastructures. SDS helps resolve this issue by providing a single software layer that can manage various different storage brands and models, and automate core storage operations through policy-based management. In addition, IT managers see SDS as a viable way to avoid vendor lock-in and significantly reduce operational costs incurred from planned and unplanned downtime and the recurring management of their mushrooming storage estate. FIGURE 3 Drivers for Software-Defined Storage Adoption Q. What are the drivers behind migration to software-defined storage? Choose all that apply. Note: n = 502 Source: IDC's 2015 Storage Survey DATACORE'S SDS STRATEGY DataCore was delivering on the vision of SDS — managing heterogeneous storage hardware with an intelligent software layer using standard x86 server hardware — long before it was called SDS. Consequently, DataCore's 10th generation software platform offers broad coverage, spanning server-attached storage, flash devices, SAN arrays, NAS, cloud-based assets, and hyper- converged infrastructure. DataCore layers a set of advanced storage services across the infrastructure, so that they become persistent, stable, and automated, irrespective of the comings and goings of the underlying storage hardware. This enables IT managers to upgrade storage hardware as needed and eliminates hardware lock-in. DataCore uniformly controls how diverse storage resources are provisioned and protected as shareable virtual pools, dynamically matching workloads to the appropriate tier of storage. This effectively standardizes management across different models and generations of storage technology, all with a single management pane, driving down the operational cost and complexity 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% Simplify management and administration Lower cost using industry-standard HW Avoid vendor lock-in Automation of frequent storage operations Extend life of existing storage assets 2015 2014
  • 6. ©2015 IDC #IDCWP24X 6 of managing storage. DataCore customers can pool and increase the utilization of their existing network-attached storage arrays, deferring the need to purchase additional capacity for years. There are two key features of DataCore's SDS platform:  Its ability to speed up the performance of applications with its adaptive parallel I/O architecture. Parallel I/O, along with a suite of performance features, including self-tuning caching and auto-tiering across a diversity of disk and flash technologies from different vendors, enables IT managers to provide faster performance without investing in additional or exotic storage hardware.  Its ability to create an active-active mirror of data across heterogeneous storage which can be stretched across distances of up to 100km. If any faults occur with the storage hardware or facility, DataCore automatically switches data access to the other, active storage — a "zero touch" process as it is fully automatic, without requiring any script or manual intervention. This circumvents hardware and facility outages without interrupting IT service delivery, driving RTO/RPO down to zero for storage-related failures. DATACORE TECHNOLOGY OVERVIEW DataCore's flagship product is SANsymphony-V, a storage services platform that provides storage virtualization capabilities. It is used by more than 10,000 customers around the world to accelerate the performance, achieve continuous availability, and gain optimal utilization from their IT infrastructure. In addition, DataCore recently introduced a new Virtual SAN offering that leverages its SDS platform for hyper-converged deployments. KEY DIFFERENTIATORS AND CAPABILITIES DataCore's SDS platform is well adapted to today's IT challenges. Now in its 10th generation, the platform provides the following:  Improved automation. DataCore automates the provisioning and management of storage regardless of its location. It spans hyper-converged (server DAS), flash devices, networked storage (NAS), SAN arrays, and cloud storage under one management framework. This enables IT managers to consolidate point products (for example in virtual environments) under one comprehensive management regime, thus increasing operational efficiency.  Simple deployment and scaling. Customers can start with a small hyper-converged Virtual SAN deployment using the internal flash and disks of their application servers and can expand to cover various brands of storage arrays, converged systems, hypervisors, and flash technologies. Deployments range from a single Virtual SAN starting with just two nodes to large, enterprise-scale deployments covering many petabytes. The benefit of DataCore's seamless, integrated platform is that companies can have just one, easy-to- manage storage architecture.  Automated data placement and tiering. DataCore automates the placement of data according to the performance requirements and cost profile of the application workload. With these capabilities, hot data is placed close to the application in the flash memory and moved into networked storage or into the cloud when it is less frequently accessed. This capability helps customers to keep storage cost down while ensuring the required performance for critical workloads to deliver a great user experience.  Greater performance. With its high-performance architecture combining storage virtualization and parallel I/O technology, DataCore accelerates I/O to a point that application users notice the improvement. DataCore enables customers to take advantage
  • 7. ©2015 IDC #IDCWP24X 7 of the emerging flash technologies and to integrate them into the existing storage infrastructure, where they can become one of the 15 possible storage tiers that it controls. The software adaptively caches read and write traffic and enables automatic failover protection to a mirrored copy of the data to prevent flash from becoming a single point of failure.  Better availability and automated failover across disparate storage. DataCore creates a synchronous mirror across multiple storage devices, ensuring that any fault (in the storage device, the network, or the facility) does not disrupt data access. By utilizing heterogeneous storage, DataCore allows existing storage arrays to be part of the mirror, driving down TCO.  Consolidation density and infrastructure cost savings. With adaptive parallel I/O, DataCore removes the I/O bottleneck impacting the degree of consolidation that is practical for machines and application workloads running within virtualized infrastructures. DataCore's ability to harness idle multicore processors on servers enables significant VM consolidation and reduces the number of servers needed within clusters. With most IT infrastructure, I/O bottlenecks force workloads, especially enterprise applications and databases, to become distributed. DataCore's adaptive parallel I/O software utilizes the inherent multiprocessor and multicore capabilities of standard x86 servers to service and scale up the I/O. The performance improvements and greater utilization of processing capabilities, as seen by industry standard benchmarks and customer feedback, enable companies to meet virtualization's promise to "do more with less,” run I/O-intensive enterprise applications, and create highly dense clusters, reducing the amount of IT infrastructure and associated complexity and costs needed to run the same set of workloads. FUTURE OUTLOOK IDC expects SDS to become the new standard for designing next-generation storage architectures as they solve the problem of rapidly storing, retrieving, and updating explosive data volumes and simultaneously lowering storage cost (both capex and opex) while preventing storage-related downtime. SDS will enable organizations to take advantage of a wide range of storage options, from the compute layer to flash to spinning disk, as well as several different interfaces, like block, file, object, and cloud-based storage. IDC is already seeing SDS employed in business-critical workloads among diverse datacenters. SDS is a crucial component for IT managers striving to provide IT as a service. It enables them to maintain a seamless presentation layer of the storage infrastructure and to rapidly and effortlessly provision resources — including storage — from their datacenter automation software platform. CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES FOR DATACORE The biggest challenge for DataCore is the tendency for some customers to first consider point products provided by their incumbent storage hardware supplier or by their preferred server hypervisor vendor instead of opting for a comprehensive approach from the onset. However, those customers will soon realize the need to consolidate their isolated data islands to achieve greater levels of performance, availability, operational efficiency, and cost reduction. Starting small but thinking big from the onset is a best practice that IDC has observed. Many IT and storage managers start by implementing SDS for a specific project or part of their infrastructure. The successful ones choose an approach that enables them to roll out the SDS architecture throughout most if not all of their IT infrastructure over time.
  • 8. ©2015 IDC #IDCWP24X 8 The fact that many influential vendors are now promoting SDS creates an ideal opportunity for DataCore to capitalize on the demand. The storage virtualization market had for a long time been controlled by a few hardware vendors, leaving little room for software-centric companies to maneuver. With the move toward SDS, hardware-independent, software-based approaches like DataCore's are expected to dominate the new storage landscape. CONCLUSION The transition to the 3rd Platform is rapidly transforming the IT environment of most companies. This has a huge impact on the requirements for more cost-effective yet high-performance storage. SDS represents a major and necessary shift in storage acquisition and operational practices to bring them in line with the attractive way that servers are now procured and managed. DataCore is one of the leading SDS vendors. Its storage services platform (available as SANsymphony-V or Virtual SAN) is recognized globally with over 10,000 customers actively enjoying accelerated performance, continuous availability, and optimal resource utilization. DataCore has a proven solution, built on more than 15 years of expertise in demanding datacenter scenarios, and the company offers pre-sales and technical support to back it up. As a measure of its quality, it is worth noting that the company's large installed base is particularly well represented in Germany, where such attributes are a prerequisite to competing successfully. SDS is long-overdue given that speed, cost-effectiveness, flexibility, and resilience are now mandatory requirements. There is a strong awareness of the need to change among IT managers eager to deliver IT-as-a-service and superior IT experiences to their users, be it on modern lines of business applications, virtual desktops, mobile devices, Big Data, or the cloud.
  • 9. About IDC International Data Corporation (IDC) is the premier global provider of market intelligence, advisory services, and events for the information technology, telecommunications and consumer technology markets. IDC helps IT professionals, business executives, and the investment community make fact-based decisions on technology purchases and business strategy. More than 1,100 IDC analysts provide global, regional, and local expertise on technology and industry opportunities and trends in over 110 countries worldwide. For 50 years, IDC has provided strategic insights to help our clients achieve their key business objectives. IDC is a subsidiary of IDG, the world's leading technology media, research, and events company. IDC U.K. 5th Floor, Ealing Cross, 85 Uxbridge Road London W5 5TH, United Kingdom 44.208.987.7100 Twitter: @IDC idc-insights-community.com www.idc.com Copyright Notice This IDC research document was published as part of an IDC continuous intelligence service, providing written research, analyst interactions, telebriefings, and conferences. Visit www.idc.com to learn more about IDC subscription and consulting services. To view a list of IDC offices worldwide, visit www.idc.com/offices. Please contact the IDC Hotline at 800.343.4952, ext. 7988 (or +1.508.988.7988) or sales@idc.com for information on applying the price of this document toward the purchase of an IDC service or for information on additional copies or Web rights. [trademark] Copyright 2015 IDC. Reproduction is forbidden unless authorized. All rights reserved.