Smaller, smarter software: The evolution of storage

By Scott Clinton

Over the years, storage technologies have become continually smaller and continually smarter.

And, recently, these technologies have evolved to become based on software, not hardware.

The freedom that software-defined storage provides is familiar, because the evolution of storage has taken a similar trajectory to something we’ve all been carrying in our pockets for years: the mobile phone.

Remember the original mobile phone? The big gray brick with the antenna? I compare this oversized technology to the giant servers that hummed in the basements of every business. They increased energy consumption, took up space, and were highly vulnerable to hardware failures.

The natural next challenge for mobile phone engineers was making them smaller. Nokia led the charge, creating a candy bar-sized phone you could realistically carry with you everywhere. Similarly, the IT industry made storage portable by creating flash memory cards and USB sticks that could hold gigabytes of data. Just as cell phones were limited to phone calls and texts, these devices were physically limiting: put data on the device, access the data, move the data.

Hello, smartphones, Android OS, and choice

Enter BlackBerry, which revolutionized the mobile phone industry by making our devices not only small and efficient—but smart. RIM developed both proprietary hardware and software for its phones that allowed us to check email and access the Internet. But the original major players in the smart phone industry—Blackberry and Apple—required customers to purchase their hardware in order to take advantage of their software. While they offered a few different phone models, consumers had limited design, tech specs, and price options.

Google’s Android operating system allowed consumers to break free from vendor lock-in. Consumers could choose from a variety of phones from different manufacturers. They could prioritize price, screen size, camera quality, etc., paying only for the technology that closely matched their needs.

Open, software-defined storage also lets you prioritize and only buy what you need. Being software based not only makes your storage more efficient, it makes it smarter, more agile, and more flexible. It gives you the freedom to customize your architectures by filling your datacenters with the hardware you want, often leading to significant cost savings.

When enterprises are locked into a traditional storage area network, they can struggle to move to next-generation technologies because their data is locked inside old servers. Moving data and applications to new servers is not only time consuming, it’s incredibly expensive, costing sometimes $7,000-10,000 to move just one terabyte.

If you aren’t forced to spend your entire budget migrating petabytes of data, you can spend more money on growth and expansion.

Storage should be smaller and portable–just like your smartphone

Open, software-defined storage can make data migration much easier, so you can use your data resources in new ways. Your storage doesn’t have to be just accessible through servers or desktops; it can connect to any device, anywhere.

You can perform analytics on live data directly within your storage software—without having to transfer data across applications. This agility and responsiveness is what modern enterprises require to not only save money on their storage solutions, but to make money because of them.

Freedom. Mobility. Choice. You have it on your mobile phone. And this really is the inspiration behind software-based storage and Red Hat Storage Server. It is built using the innovations of communities of passionate developers and thought leaders like GlusterFS. Red Hat strengthens these community innovations, ideas, and improvements—from contributors who have a shared vision for the future of storage technology—to bring you products built for the enterprise. With Red Hat, you’re not limited to only solving today’s storage challenges, you are prepared for its future possibilities, too.

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