SDS in a Snap interview series - SwiftStack

Mario Blandini, VP Marketing, SwiftStack

Data&storageAsean:  Why are traditional hardware storage vendors seeing revenues decline? Is SDS in part responsible for this?
Mario: Everyone can agree that consumption of storage worldwide is at an all-time high, and there are no signs of this slowing down. Therefore, any decline in the consumption of traditional storage cannot be linked to lower overall consumption. Revenues among traditional hardware vendors are declining because their customers are choosing to consume different storage for both new workloads as well as existing ones. To the extent that SDS delivers a storage experience that is better suited to the way organizations prefer to consume, SDS is being used in place of traditional hardware.
This does not mean SDS is responsible for hardware revenue decline. It is the freedom of choice that organizations have in moving their data workloads to SDS that is the reason. This movement toward software-defined architectures will continue to accelerate given the compelling value that new technologies offer compared to traditional hardware storage. That said, traditional storage will not go away completely, as there will always be certain workloads where investing in specific hardware is the best choice for some applications. Storage for mainframes is still consumed today.
Data&StorageAsean: Does moving to SDS storage mean throwing away existing storage hardware investment?
Mario : One answer to this question is “no”, as existing storage hardware investments will continue to be utilized through the remainder of their useful life. No one likes migrating data to new storage, but it is a necessity with traditional hardware. Existing hardware investments will be decommissioned (i.e. thrown away) on the same timelines set for those installations prior to the availability of SDS. IT shops may migrate some data off hardware to SDS, allowing them to put off buying more storage hardware for older applications as those grow.
Another way to answer this question depends on what type of SDS an organization chooses to use. Just like traditional hardware storage, there are many different SDS offerings that optimize for high performance block storage, or multi-use file storage, or high capacity object storage. Some SDS offerings do allow for use of existing storage hardware, but most SDS solution deliver their best ROI when deployed on standard server infrastructure. With this architecture, the right scale-out SDS does does not require migrating data when refreshing hardware, it aligns more with how lifecycle is managed for standard server hardware.
Data&StorageAsean: Is SDS already being over taken by cloud storage?
Mario:A choice between SDS and cloud storage is not mutually exclusive. A classic SAN or NAS deployment to support typical VMware workloads can be made using an SDS offering. This storage would have no “cloud” storage capabilities, and using public cloud storage would not be an option for running on-premises SAN workloads. The same is true for cloud storage, as there are API-compatible offerings for on-premises private cloud use cases that are hardware-defined, and purchased the same way traditional hardware-based storage is purchased. The workload drives the decision.
A different way to look at this would be that many workloads are being moved to cloud storage to take advantage of the benefits of cloud: quick time to consumption, pay-as-you-grow pricing, and the ability to easily start small and scale huge. For workloads in the public cloud, that storage is consumed as a service rather than a product. For private cloud workloads, the preference for SDS offerings is strong. Unlike hardware solutions, the consumption experience of SDS is closer to the quick consumption, pricing, and scalability that organizations value from cloud storage.
Data&StorageAsean: What are the key drivers that will drive people to implement SDS?
Mario:Looking back to the way VMware adoption was driven around the turn of the century, the primary driver was not access to new capabilities, it was the opportunity to spend less money on hardware. 80% of the material cost in storage hardware comes from disk drives / SSDs. When compared to the price when purchased in a server, a virtually identical hard drive is marked up significantly, 40%-400% or more. It simply does not make sense to pay this unnecessary markup for what are virtually identical hard drives storing most unstructured data workloads.
The largest cloud providers on the planet use standard hardware, as it is the only way they could deliver their services at the right cost to enable new applications. Beyond cost, those same cloud providers are able to granularly scale their infrastructure with software, and they are not limited by rigid hardware configurations. SDS gives Enterprises access to the same enabling technologies to build services their internal customers need at a cost and scale that supports growing business. As SDS, customers also get to enjoy the capacity increase and price decrease of hardware over time.
Data&StorageAsean: What is unique about your own SDS offering?
MarioSwiftStack is SDS in its most pure definition, supported for installation on most any standard x86 server running a popular version of Linux OS (Red Hat, CentOS, Ubuntu). Many products are described as SDS, but are only available in a specific hardware appliance configuration, which do not allow for freedom of choice among hardware or OS. Organizations can use the same server hardware they already buy for their compute workloads to build software-defined storage clusters with SwiftStack.
It is consumption that makes SwiftStack unique among other software defined storage offerings, providing the experience of public cloud but in your custody behind your firewall. SwiftStack can be deployed in minutes, can start small and scale huge, and is licensed like public cloud based on the capacity that is used rather than the total amount that is deployed. This pay-as-you-grow model with support and maintenance built-in is funded annually rather than all up front, so organizations avoid pre-paying for more capacity than they can ever use. Freedom of choice and support for applications today and tomorrow are benefits when choosing SwiftStack.

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