Dan's Take

Software-Defined Storage Survey: Flash Storage Still Lagging

DataCore's survey has lots of valuable insights.

My inbox is full of messages from PR companies and suppliers touting the results of their latest survey. For the most part, however, these studies are deeply flawed and simply cannot be considered representative of actual market opinions or trends.

The usual problems include a sample that is just too small, a sample taken at the sponsor's own event, or a survey instrument that clearly was designed to promote the company's own marketing messages. When I received the notice that DataCore was promoting its fifth State of Software-Defined Storage (SDS) survey, I was confident it was going to be more of the same. As I dug deeper into the survey, though, I found it to be one of the exceptions to the rule and certainly worth of a read.

It's clear that reasonable care was taken in selecting the sample. Here's what the company has to say about it:

"The 2015 poll explored the impact of SDS on organizations across the globe, and distills the experiences of 477 IT professionals currently using or evaluating SDS to solve critical data storage challenges. The results yield surprising insights from a cross-section of industries over a wide range of workloads."

My only concern was the statement "using or evaluating SDS to solve critical data storage challenges." If the goal was getting an understanding of how people are using this technology, the inclusion of those merely evaluating the technology isn't going to be all that helpful. If the goal, on the other hand, is learning more about the technology selection process and business requirements, then including those evaluating the technology, but not yet using it, makes good sense.

Survey Highlights
The following bullets present a few of the survey findings:

  • 52 percent of respondents expect SDS will extend the life of existing storage assets and future-proof their storage infrastructure.
  • Very little funding is being earmarked in 2015 for heavily hyped technologies, including Big Data, Object Storage and OpenStack.
  • More than half of respondents say that they currently have less than 10 percent of capacity assigned to flash storage.
  • Software-Defined Storage and storage virtualization are deemed very urgent now, with 63 percentof organizations making important investments in these technologies throughout 2015.
  • The ability to add storage capacity without business disruption is identified as the primary reason for choosing storage virtualization software (52 percent of respondents). Supporting synchronous mirroring and metro clusters for high availability to ensure business continuity and asynchronous data replication for remote site disaster recovery are also high on the list.
  • More than half of the respondents (53 percent) say that they currently have less than 10 percent of capacity assigned to flash storage. The number of participants who answered that flash makes up higher than 40 percent of their storage capacity is only 9 percent.
  • More than 60 percent of respondents experienced performance degradation or the inability to meet performance after virtualizing server workloads. When asked what the typical causes of performance problems are, 61 percent of participants blame slow applications, and 46 percent single out legacy storage devices as the culprit.
  • Human errors are driving the need for greater automation. It has become increasingly clear that the complexity which accompanies data growth and diversity is taking a big toll, as 61 percent of respondents indicated that human error was behind application and data center outages.
Dan's Take: No Forklifts Here
DataCore is known for its storage virtualization and software defined storage products, and clearly understands where the industry is going and how that type of technology is being used today. One of the points that I like most about the company's approach is that it isn't advocating a "forklift upgrade" to take advantage of virtual storage. The technology it offers makes it possible for the enterprise to start where it is and move forward to an SDS environment without requiring it to abandon its current storage infrastructure on the way.

I'd suggest taking the time to read through the survey report. There are many useful nuggets of information that could be very helpful in understanding market dynamics, and helping an enterprise make important decisions about its storage architecture.

About the Author

Daniel Kusnetzky, a reformed software engineer and product manager, founded Kusnetzky Group LLC in 2006. He's literally written the book on virtualization and often comments on cloud computing, mobility and systems software. He has been a business unit manager at a hardware company and head of corporate marketing and strategy at a software company.

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