For software defined storage, stop comparing hardware specifications


More than ever, with the current market drive towards software defined environments (SDE), the software functionality is providing the differentiation between competitive storage solutions, whether it’s to drive new levels of efficiency, improve data protection or even simplify system installation and management. No two vendors perform such functions in exactly the same way, however, or even use the same code.

Having been a computer programmer, I know there can be a significant variance in the efficiency of code written, so even when two systems at face value offer the same capability, the resources required to execute it can vary enormously. Indeed, often code efficiency and approach can mean the difference between a software capability that actually delivers value and merely “ticking” the software capability box.

Many storage purchasing decisions are still based on specifications, as IT or purchasing departments strive to make “apples to apples” comparisons based on hardware specification, such as cache size, quantity of disk drives and so on. In an SDE, these comparisons will fail to lead to a meaningful conclusion for two keys reasons.

  1. First, the variance in the efficiency of the code written could result in two systems requiring very different hardware resource requirements in order to deliver a required performance.
  2. Secondly, the software defined capability of a solution and the value those capabilities deliver are the true differentiators between solutions.

As a point of reference, once upon a time, consumers looking to buy a PC would compare specifications between machines, looking at processor make, clock speed, memory size and storage capacity. Move forward to the present, and when looking at buying tablets or smart phones, the focus has very much shifted to functionality versus hardware specification. This is the shift to decisions being based on the solution that fixes a problem or need.

Clients need assistance in understanding the value of a software defined storage environment to establish a data architecture that delivers high value functionality and can help their business transition away from the expensive, complex, vendor-locked storage infrastructure in place today. A data architecture that has been truly optimized will deliver new levels of efficiency, simplicity and protection for data assets required for tomorrow’s data center. The right solution will drive down both capital and operational costs, while enabling the maximum value to be extracted from their data.

To learn more about creating the right SDE foundation, please check out this e-book and bookmark the SDE blog.

Ian Shave is a Business Line Manager for IBM Storage products. A leader in the storage industry, he provides market insights and develops business strategies that focus on client value, delivering successful storage businesses across geographies. His insights also drive business efficiency, improving time to market for industry solutions, while optimizing development resources. Connect with him on Twitter: @Ian_Shave.

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2 Responses to For software defined storage, stop comparing hardware specifications

  1. Paul Richardson says:

    Just wondering, if one could distill the SDE loads down to IOP’s etc….

    I can remember back in the early to mid spec vs. cisc wars that the SPEC organization attempted at providing some rational means of getting bearings on system performance.

    It seems to me that it would be helpful to have an equivalent or maybe push the SPEC organization to enhance their benchmarks so as to provide some more meaningful metrics on systems of this nature end-to-end

    • Ian says:

      Thank you Paul and I agree with you that there is a need to update benchmark metrics.
      I will look into this further.

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