IT Infrastructure Insights

As Storage Gets More Complex, Management Software-Defined Storage Will Be Essential

Dec 01, 2021

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Visual One Intelligence was recognized as a Sample Vendor in Gartner® Hype Cycle™ for Storage and Data Protection Technologies, 2021 Report, while Gartner also identified MSDS as an emerging storage technology [1].

In a recent research report from Gartner, management software-defined storage (MSDS) was recognized as an emerging storage technology with a current market penetration of 1%-5% of the target audience and a prediction of mainstream adoption within 5-10 years.

(Visual One Intelligence was listed as one of 10 Sample Vendors listed for MSDS in this 2021 Gartner Hype Cycle.)

What does this mean for your business? Will you need to consider MSDS vendors in the future?

To answer these questions, you’ll have to familiarize yourself with this emerging technology.

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What is Management Software-Defined Storage?

According to the 2021 Gartner Hype Cycle report, “management software-defined storage (MSDS) coordinates the delivery of storage services to enable greater storage agility.”

As a type of software-defined storage, management software-defined storage specifically focuses on – you guessed it – storage management. Unlike SRMs or other tools, MSDS separates the hardware from the software, creating new options and strategic flexibility for infrastructure teams.

Traditional storage models link vendor-specific hardware units with same-vendor software. If you wanted to manage a NetApp storage device, for example, you had to rely on NetApp software tools such as OCI (or build your own processes – a costly and time-consuming endeavor).

Meanwhile, those same NetApp tools could not help you at all with storage from other vendors. Those units needed their own vendor tools.

In the traditional model (and even in some hybrid and non-traditional models), your only options for monitoring and reporting data from your multi-vendor storage were:

  • Purchase each vendor’s management tool (like NetApp OCI or Dell EMC) and rely on your team to accurately compile and compare the data – even though the tools don’t report the same data in the same way.
  • Ignore vendor software for a do-it-yourself approach, dedicating days upon days to complicated spreadsheets and procedures that are prone to error and may need to be re-designed when staff turnover leads to knowledge loss.

A management software-defined storage provider like Visual One Intelligence offers a third way, enabling the same infrastructure data from all of your storage units to be collected, visualized, analyzed, and compared.

And for many MSDS providers, that’s just the starting point.

MSDS Will Only Grow More Relevant

Storage is getting more complicated. Unstructured data growth seems to increase every year, and traditional infrastructure models are being replaced or supplemented with newer methods.

In the midst of these frantic changes, observability is getting harder to achieve apart from the kinds of unifying data displays offered by MSDS vendors.

The rapid escalation of data usage continues to climb. Recent IDC predictions indicate that worldwide data could grow to 175 zettabytes by 2025. (For reference, just one zettabyte is equal to one trillion gigabytes.)

Not only does new data keep growing, but old data never dies. Policies and regulations governing data archives tend to strictly limit the circumstances in which anything can be archived (much less deleted).

All that data needs to be stored somewhere, and simpler methods of managing that storage will be critical.

As a result of so much data growth, infrastructures are sprawling. A single company can have data on the edge, in heterogenous hardware separated into data centers in multiple time zones, and in the private cloud all at the same time.

In their research Your Data Center May Not Be Dead, but It’s Morphing, Gartner analysts David Cappuccio and Henrique Cecci proposed the strategic planning assumption that “By 2025, 85% of infrastructure strategies will integrate on-premises, colocation, cloud and edge delivery options, compared with 20% in 2020.”[2] Without MSDS options, day-to-day operations (let alone scalability) could become untenable.

All of these changes come as companies continue to expand employees’ job description. According to the 2021 Gartner Hype Cycle report, “By 2025, 70% of IT storage engineers will shift and expand their skills and job responsibilities from solely managing storage arrays.”

Infrastructure teams will need resources to lighten their load and create time for their other obligations.

Benefits of Management Software-Defined Storage

For businesses – especially enterprise organizations – there is lots of potential to change for the better with management software-defined storage options.

Simplified management. When vendor fragmentation is replaced by a single pane of glass, infrastructure management becomes simpler and faster.

Staff efficiency. Employees who used to dedicate their time towards certain management responsibilities can be reassigned to revenue-generating roles. Often, ditching the cost of traditional tools results in an MSDS option that improves storage efficiency as well, helping you avoid unnecessary purchases.

Lower operating costs. In the case of an MSDS like Visual One Intelligence, clients have saved as much as $1.5 million in operating costs just by replacing expensive vendor-exclusive SRM tools.

Fewer storage purchases. With new insights into their data, other clients have found and reclaimed so much usable storage that they saved another $1.5 million in capital expenses by avoiding storage purchases.

Scalability and data migration. As a single source of truth in your storage environment, they are a window into every corner of your data infrastructure. If you are considering a move to the cloud, for example, the insights from MSDS solutions like Visual One Intelligence will both prepare you for that migration and pivot to the new reporting requirements of a different storage environment.

MSDS products also provide a host of other capabilities (with some variation depending on the product). In addition to single-pane-of-glass data display and multi-vendor data reporting, Visual One Intelligence delivers:

  • Capacity planning models & forecasting,
  • File analysis,
  • Health monitoring,
  • Life cycle management,
  • Chargeback / showback reporting,
  • Device & backup audits,
  • VMware data insights & capacity planning,
  • And more.

Is Management Software-Defined Storage Right for Your Organization?

As more companies turn to management software-defined storage for their infrastructure needs, MSDS options will likely increase. Not everyone will want or need an MSDS product. Some organizations will be content with their existing processes, and not all MSDS options are equivalent. As with any enterprise decision, every organization needs to uniquely examine its own circumstances, needs, desires, and abilities.

However, management software-defined storage should be part of the conversation if you want to comprehensively consider all options. With more companies opting for MSDS, it’s clear that modern problems require modern solutions.

Want to do some more research? Don’t wait – there’s no cost to learning. Schedule a free information session & demo with Visual One Intelligence. We’ll show you some of the best that MSDS has to offer so that you can strategize for the future with eyes wide open.

If you like what you see, you can even try it for free.

[1] Gartner, “Hype Cycle for Storage and Data Protection Technologies, 2021”, Julia Palmer, July 22, 2021.

[2] Gartner, “Your Data Center May Not Be Dead, but It’s Morphing”, David Cappuccio, Henrique Cecci, September 20, 2020.

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