It’s taken much longer than most people initially thought, but it appears software-defined storage (SDS) is finally upon us. While virtual machines have been with us for decades, adoption of virtualization to craft SDS solutions has been comparatively slow. But a new survey of 426 IT professionals conducted by DataCore Software, a provider of storage software, finds that roughly half of the respondents are now moving toward SDS for reasons that range from simplifying storage management to avoiding being locked into a single vendor.
The top SDS benefit cited by respondents (83 percent) is business continuity enabled by the high-availability capabilities provided by technologies such as metro clustering and synchronous mirroring. Citied by nearly three quarters (73 percent) of the respondents, the next most popular benefit was the ability to expand storage capacity without disruption; followed by cost efficiency (65 percent) and disaster recovery via asynchronous replication to remote site (60 percent).
It’s clear that IT executives view SDS as core enabling technology for implementing a hybrid cloud computing strategy. The primary use cases for cloud storage cited by the respondents were long-term archiving (35 percent); backup and recovery (33 percent); and disaster recovery (33 percent). Only 11 percent of respondents are using public cloud storage for primary storage. It's also worth noting that 40 percent of those surveyed said they are not currently evaluating or using the cloud for storage. In fact, 31 percent said cloud storage was difficult, while 29 percent specifically said they perceive managing object storage to be difficult.
Cloud storage opportunities for MSPs
Managed service providers have an opportunity to fill the gap that exists between the apparent desire to employ hybrid clouds and how cloud storage technologies are perceived. There’s clearly an opportunity to make it simpler for IT organizations to invoke cloud storage. The good news is that achieving that goal becomes simpler to achieve when customers implement SDS within the local data center. Most SDS solutions expose an application programming interface (API) that makes it easier to integrate those systems with external clouds compared to most legacy storage systems. In effect, the more SDS solutions there are in place, the bigger the hybrid cloud storage opportunity should become for MSPs.
In fact, hybrid cloud computing is expected to become the new normal. IT organizations have become comfortable managing multiple clouds. Now, it’s only a matter of time before those clouds get woven together in a way that makes it easier to share data between distributed applications.
Of course, the biggest challenge MSPs will face is the limited view many IT organizations today have when it comes to the art of cloud storage. Most internal IT operations teams responsible for storage don’t have software or programming skills. The assumption they make is that an external IT service provider wouldn’t be able to implement anything more sophisticated than they can. Because of that issue, it’s often incumbent upon the MSP to demonstrate what can be done in terms of crafting advanced hybrid cloud storage services and solutions. That may require incurring some additional costs from time to time, but there’s nothing quite as effective as seeing something work when you're trying to turn skeptics into true believers.