If you have worked in IT for more than a few years you probably know that it is not easy to get all the different components of an IT Infrastructure to work nicely together. If you have found or even created a combination that works you will want to stick with that set as long as possible. Storage is the foundation of your virtualization setup and in most cases it is also one of the most challenging parts of your IT infrastructure in terms of getting the right performance and availability for the right price. Therefore I can understand that the idea alone of moving to a different storage platform can be daunting.
The first step to take to get an answer to the question ‘how do I know if my organization is ready for Software Defined Storage?‘ is to make a list of all the storage systems and storage types you currently use and what you use them for. You might for example have a NetApp FAS or HP Lefthand system as your primary storage system to run your VMWare virtualization platform. You might use a couple of Windows Servers for serving files to your Windows workstations and you could be storing your Veeam backups on an HP 2000 array and you recently bought a Synology NAS since the HP array ran out of space. Oh and you almost forgot you where using a few Intel SSD of a few years old to run your development and infrastructure test environment on.
The nice thing about Software Defined Storage is that it is very flexible.
The nice thing about Software Defined Storage, that is if you use vendor independent Software Defined Storage (but that is for another blog), is that it is very flexible. That flexibility is something you should handle carefully so you don’t accidentally throw away the baby with the bathwater. You can use Software Defined Storage to make your storage very cheap by choosing to use consumer grade hardware. You can use Software Defined Storage to start out very small, and grow gradually. You can also use Software Defined Storage to get a lot more performance for your intended use than if you spend the same amount of money on good old vendor based storage solutions, but still use enterprise hardware. You can also use re-purpose your old server hardware to offer storage now.
If you want to be successful in implementing Software Defined Storage in your own organization it is smartest to start out when it is time to replace or expand one of your storage needs. In most cases it’s best not to start with an application that needs full performance and full availability. You will want to feel comfortable and at ease with your new storage product before you put it in a location that always has to work. One of the easy targets to start using Software Defined Storage is in backup storage systems. Especially if your current backup space is running out of capacity and you are using ‘quick fix’ expansions like a Qnap or Synology NAS to store your enterprise backups. But you could also start out by buying a small setup for running your IT infrastructure test environment on. If you are currently experiencing performance or scalability problems with your tier one, production, storage environment it might still be interesting to take a look at some of the software defined storage solutions, but you might want to ask for expert advice from Software Defined Storage integrators with a few years of experience.
Hardware is in most case much more important than the software you are going to use…
After you have selected the storage system you want to replace or expand you can start looking at the software options… and the hardware options of course. Yes, in storage hardware is in most cases much more important than the software you use. If you use unreliable hardware, or hardware that does not meet the expected performance you require your total storage solution, no matter what wonderful storage software you use, your total solution may turn out a total failure. And unlike when you buy a total solution from a vendor, the result will be as good as the people and process that have put it together. The good part of this of course is that when you have put a system together with your own team, and it works as expected or better, your team deserves all the glory. If you are going to need good quality enterprise storage hardware you are best off by getting in contact with a company that sells software defined solutions and does not sell closed solutions.
Read my posts on LinkedIn about Software Defined Storage too: