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What's in a name?
A lot, at least in the fiercely competitive enterprise data storage space. And as the software defined data center trend picks up, so can the fortunes of tech firms that describe themselves as Software Defined Storage (SDS) providers.
IDC is diving into the thick of things by putting "a stake in the ground" and "clearly defining software-based storage."
Software Defined Storage solutions are hitting the market in increasing numbers and the research group is looking to give enterprise storage buyers some direction as to what constitutes SDS by "developing the industry's first comprehensive taxonomy supporting this definition."
In recent months, the Software Defined Storage market has been picking up steam. Santa Clara, Calif.-based Nexenta Systems raised $24 million in February to help advance its NexentaStor open storage platform. VMware also made waves that month by snapping up virtual storage specialist Virsto for an undisclosed amount. In December, storage startup ScaleIO announced that it raised $12 million to boost its ScaleIO ECS software sales operations.
The buzz hasn't escaped IDC's attention.
"Software-based platforms will continue to grow faster than any other market segment in the file- and object-based storage market. This growth will primarily be driven by a rich and diverse set of data-intensive use cases across multiple industries and geographies," said IDC Research Director, Ashish Nadkarni in a statement.
Like Software Defined Networking, the emerging IT discipline can have a similar disruptive effect on the data center, asserts Nadkarni. "Software-based storage will slowly but surely become a dominant part of every datacenter, either as a component of a software-defined datacenter or simply as a means to store data more efficiently and cost-effectively," he said in a company statement.
"With a consistent and coherent set of definitions, suppliers can collectively help buyers realize the vision for SBS platforms," concluded Nadkarni.
So, what is IDC's official stance on Software Defined Storage? The company defines it as such:
IDC's approach defines software-based storage as any storage software stack that can be installed on commodity resources (x86 hardware, hypervisors, or cloud) and/or off-the-shelf computing hardware. Furthermore, in order to qualify, software-based storage stacks should offer a full suite of storage services and federation between the underlying persistent data placement resources to enable data mobility of its tenants between these resources.
The research group also argues that startups, and industry stalwarts in particular, ought to on board with this trend. And the sooner, the better.
"It is in the long-term interest of incumbents to seize this opportunity to shed their hardware-centric mind frame and join the ranks of emerging start-ups to enable this paradigm shift. With the proliferation of SBS platforms, the delineation between hardware, software, and cloud storage suppliers will blur and eventually disappear," said IDC.