Unlocking Software Defined Storage

Software-defined storage (SDS) is a concept that sometimes benefits vendors more so than it benefits customers. Most SDS vendors are shifting from a model that was software only to one that includes hardware. SDS is still advantageous to these vendors because, the vendor can move between hardware platforms with relative ease, and most of the time the vendor locks their customer into the hardware that they chose to bundle with their software. At the same time, most traditional hardware vendors are trying to become software companies as they realize increasingly more value is derived from software than from hardware.

Turnkey SDS or DIY SDS

There are times where bundling hardware with the software makes sense. For example, for the organization’s initial foray into SDS, they may want a turnkey system to make startup go a bit more smoothly. Another example is hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI), where the architecture’s foundation counts on the “just add a node” approach for expansion.

In both of these examples, however, the customer should be given the option to expand without lock-in, by leveraging hardware already on-premises or by being able to select hardware from any of the numerous server and storage vendors.

Starting with a turnkey approach and then evolving to a do it yourself approach is how most data centers tend to evolve their use of SDS. It is a classic crawl, walk, run adoption strategy, and it is a strategy that more vendors should empower their customers to adopt.

DataCore Update

DataCore, for over twenty years, is a company focused on delivering SDS solutions to its customers. Unlike many other SDS vendors, who are still in their early startup stage, DataCore’s product is a mature, robust offering that continues to stand the test of time.

The DataCore Data Services platforms include all the capabilities IT professionals expect in an enterprise-class solution, like encryption, snapshots and replication. The platform also includes features that most vendors are still working on like auto-tiering, not only between storage media types within a storage system, but across storage systems.

What’s New at DataCore?

HCI with a Future

This summer, DataCore is announcing a new DataCore-branded HCI-Flex Appliance which is a turnkey hardware and software solution designed for customers who’ve decided on an HCI strategy for their data centers. Unlike many HCI solutions, the DataCore solution can scale storage and computing independently, and it can pool existing external arrays. The result is a flexible HCI architecture that should avoid the typical problems encountered when scaling other HCI environments.

Cloud-based Analytics Platform

DataCore is also announcing a new cloud-based analytics platform that pools telemetry data from across its customer base to improve operations and technical support. Within the customer environment, the solution provides centralized alerting and health indicators for all of the customer’s DataCore installations, and provides guidance as to how to solve issues and steps to take to improve the health of the system. Resellers can use it to monitor all of their customers’ installations, enabling the channel to more easily demonstrate value-add.

Frictionless Business Model

DataCore is also announcing some changes within the business itself. There is a new leadership team in place, including a new CEO, CMO, and CPO. They’ve simplified their pricing model to an all-inclusive, capacity based structure. They’ve also added a subscription model for companies that want to avoid upfront CAPEX costs.

DataCore also promises to increase its customer satisfaction, with market-driven product development and enhanced support capabilities. Finally, DataCore is focusing on getting the word out, no longer settling for being that quiet company from Florida.

StorageSwiss Take

Most companies abandon the SDS promise too soon. It takes time for organizations to realize how beneficial SDS could be for them, and it takes time to break old buying habits (i.e. throwing hardware at a problem). Unlike other SDS solutions on the market, DataCore is not a startup. With twenty years of experience they have a software solution that has all the features and capabilities that enterprises need, and now they have a delivery model that makes sense for a wide range of data centers.

DataCore customers often “stumble” into the solution, either through word of mouth or a lucky Google search. Once they become a customer, though, they tend to be very loyal. A great product is critical to success, and the longevity of the DataCore solution testifies to its quality.

A recent study though indicated that 85% of IT buyers make their buying decision through online research, before ever contacting a vendor. Having online, educational content from a variety of sources is almost as critical as having a great product. DataCore now seems ready to commit on the essential messaging front, which we may catapult them to the IT storage shortlist.

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Twelve years ago George Crump founded Storage Switzerland with one simple goal; to educate IT professionals about all aspects of data center storage. He is the primary contributor to Storage Switzerland and is a heavily sought after public speaker. With over 25 years of experience designing storage solutions for data centers across the US, he has seen the birth of such technologies as RAID, NAS and SAN, Virtualization, Cloud and Enterprise Flash. Prior to founding Storage Switzerland he was CTO at one of the nation's largest storage integrators where he was in charge of technology testing, integration and product selection.

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