Software Defined Storage (SDS) is still in its infancy. While there are exceptions, like Atlantis Computing, Nexenta and DataCore, vendors in the space are for the most part startups looking to get their first hundred or so customers. FalconStor’s new FreeStor solution promises to mature the category in a hurry. FreeStor leverages FalconStor’s 15 years of experience creating storage solutions for both IT professionals and storage OEMs. FreeStor is the culmination of that experience.
Software Defined Storage for The Existing Data Center
Most SDS solutions are designed for a ‘greenfield’ storage infrastructure, meaning they expect the IT professional to unplug their existing storage systems and replace them with commodity servers filled with flash and hard disk drives. Essentially, many SDS vendors assume the data center is ready to jump into SDS with both feet and their eyes closed. This probably explains why SDS has had a slow takeoff thus far and traditional “hardware defined” storage systems continue to dominate the market.
FreeStor – SDS at your Pace
FalconStor’s approach is to let the data center adopt SDS at a pace that makes sense for the organization. Most importantly, this adoption can include the aggregation of existing storage assets, leveraging them as it makes sense.
SDS by Use Case
FreeStor provides a data services ‘resource pool’ that integrates into the FreeStor core that abstracts physical storage assets. This data services pool includes virtualization, clustering, tape out, virtual tape, automated recovery, snapshots, deduplication and replication modules. And, these modules can be mixed and matched to meet specific demands.
For example, an IT planner could use FreeStor in a data migration use case to allow them to purchase a flash appliance to meet the performance demand of a mission critical database. They could then leverage FreeStor to migrate data between the new flash investment and the legacy hard disk arrays. The migration could be two ways and is seamless. This means the organization could by a smaller flash appliance and only move volumes to it when peak loads dictate.
Another common demand being placed on IT is to create an always-on architecture. The IT professional could leverage FreeStor’s Virtualization, Clustering, Automated Recovery and Replication modules to make sure data is synchronously mirrored in real time between two separate built-on-site storage systems and then replicated to an off-site system.
A third use case would be to use FreeStor as a key component in data protection. IT planners could leverage FreeStor’s Automated Recovery, Snapshots and Replication to create separate point-in-time copies of data to separate storage systems in multiple locations.
Finally, the Tape Out, Virtual Tape, Deduplication and Replication services could be used to create an optimized backup environment. This could be used as a target to existing backup software or could be used to augment the third use case above.
Common Sense Pricing
One of the biggest challenges facing IT professionals today is understanding vendor licensing schemes. Making sure you have all the right modules and are using the modules you are paying for can be a full time job. FreeStor overcomes this problem by providing a simplified, flexible pricing model, in which all the capabilities are included for a predictable $/TB price.
The above four use cases are just examples. How the IT planner leverages FreeStor’s data services resources pool will depend on their situation. The key for FreeStor is that these data services are very mature, built on code with 15 years of real world use, but modernized for today’s data challenges. Also, the fact that FreeStor can leverage and add value to an existing storage infrastructure should be very appealing.
The FreeStor approach allows IT to dip their toes in the SDS water based on the problem that they are trying to solve. The combination of these factors should make FreeStor a contender for any data center considering SDS and it should make data centers that have ruled out SDS to reconsider its potential.