DataCore Software has published the results of its latest market survey, ‘The State of Software-Defined, Hyperconverged and Cloud Storage,’ which explored the experiences of 400 IT professionals who are currently using or evaluating software-defined storage, hyperconverged and cloud storage to solve critical data storage challenges. The results yield insights from a cross-section of industries over a range of workloads, including the fact that storage availability and avoiding vendor lock-in remain top concerns for IT professionals.
The report reveals what respondents view as the primary business drivers for implementing software-defined, hyperconverged, public cloud and hybrid cloud storage. For example, the top results for software-defined storage include: automate frequent or complex storage operations; simplify management of different types of storage; and extend the life of existing storage assets. This portrays the market’s recognition of the economic advantages of software-defined storage and its power to maximise IT infrastructure performance, availability and utilisation.
The report also highlights the capabilities that users would like from their storage infrastructure. The top capabilities identified were business continuity/high availability (which can be achieved via metro clustering, synchronous data mirroring, and other architectures) at 74 percent; disaster recovery (from remote site or public cloud) at 73 percent; and enabling storage capacity expansion without disruption at 72 percent.
Business continuity was found to be a key storage concern, whether on-premise or in the cloud. It is first on the list for the primary capability that respondents would like from their storage infrastructure, and was also number one in the previous DataCore market survey. Additionally, business continuity is the top business driver for those deploying public and hybrid cloud storage (46 percent and 41 percent), and similarly ranks high in the complete results for software-defined and hyperconverged storage business drivers, coming in at 45 percent and 43 percent respectively.
The vendor lock-in issue
The biggest surprise reported was that there is still too much vendor lock-in within storage, with 42 percent of respondents noting this as their top concern. Software-defined storage is being used to solve this (management of heterogeneous environments) as well as for automation (lowering costs, fewer migrations and less work provisioning). Therefore, it should not be a surprise that the results also showed adoption of software-defined storage is about double that of hyperconverged (37 percent vs. 21 percent), with 56 percent of respondents also strongly considering or planning to consider software-defined storage in the next 12 months.
The survey further revealed the reality of hyperconverged deployments. While it continues to make inroads, in addition to above, some respondents also said they are ruling out hyperconverged because it does not integrate with existing systems (creates silos), can’t scale compute and storage independently and is too expensive. Hybrid-converged technology is a good option for IT to consider in these cases.
Additionally, while all-flash arrays are often viewed as the simplest way to add performance, more than 17 percent of survey respondents found that adding flash failed to deliver on the performance promise—most likely as flash does not solve the I/O bottlenecks pervasive in most enterprises. Technologies such as Parallel I/O provide an effective solution for this.
In regard to emerging technologies, many enterprises are exploring containers, however actual adoption is slow primarily due to: lack of data management and storage tools; application performance slowdowns—especially for databases and other tier-1 applications; and lack of ways to deal with applications such as databases that need persistent storage. NVMe is also still struggling to become mainstream. About half of respondents have not adopted NVMe at all. Thirty percent of survey respondents report that 10 percent or more of their storage is NVMe, and more than 7 percent report that more than half of their storage is NVMe.
While adoption is still slow, enthusiasm for the technology does appear strong. Technologies such as software-defined storage with Gen6 HBA support and dynamic auto-tiering with NVMe on a DAS can help simplify and accelerate adoption.
When it comes to cloud storage adoption and maturity, many still report security and regulatory concerns as obstacles to deployment. Furthermore, another top surprise reported was that using the cloud failed to reduce storage costs.
Overall, respondents view requirements, use cases and decision drivers very differently based on where they stand relative to how much and how long they currently are using storage—on-premise or in the cloud. For example, databases, consolidation and VDI are the top three use cases reported for on-premise software-defined storage and hyperconverged infrastructure deployments whereas backup, archival and disaster recovery, as in past surveys, continue to be the top three use cases for public and hybrid cloud deployments.
Reducing new hardware costs and adding performance were the main decision drivers in past surveys (prior to 2017) across all types of deployments. There has been a significant shift this year as well as last year, making automation, simplification and extending the life of existing assets top of mind.