The New Role of Software Defined Storage in Managing Enterprise Data Mobility

by Shirish Phatak on March 2, 2017


Modern business enterprises need instant availability to their data, whenever and wherever it's required. Whether it's a driver accessing route instructions for a delivery, or a home renovation specialist developing feature and pricing options for customers while seated with them at their dining room table, or a globally dispersed engineering team working together on a project involving big data analytics, workers are coming more and more to depend on having instant access to the corporate data they need.
Yet achieving that kind of data mobility for users is no easy task. In the old days of hardware-centric storage, data was normally housed in one place, and accessing it from anywhere else was difficult, costly, and often non-secure. But with the advent of the software defined storage (SDS) paradigm, corporate data mobility has taken a giant leap forward. In this article we'll take a look at how SDS has become a game changer for enterprise data mobility.
Why Enterprise Data Mobility Is Important In today's business environment corporate data must be mobile because its users are. Often employees are either mobile themselves, or are located in geographically dispersed remote sites. Workers based in the home office may need to collaborate with others located in branch offices around the world, using a common set of data. Other employees need to access and update information in a database while away from the office. Still others, willing participants in the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) revolution, may access company apps and information from their own personal smartphones or tablets.

That's simply the way business is done these days, and organizations that can't provide that kind of anytime, anywhere, any-device access to information for employees, suppliers, business partners, and customers can quickly find themselves falling behind their more flexible and agile competitors.
Not only does data mobility have a big impact on users, it is also vitally important for a company's own internal operations. When datasets are essentially stuck in their own individual storage systems, information silos are created and multiply, presenting IT staff with an increasingly complex storage management challenge. Perhaps more importantly, that lack of mobility also limits the organization's ability to develop new and more cost-effective ways to leverage its data to take advantage of changing business conditions.
How Data Consolidation In The Cloud Facilitates Mobility The amount of data being generated every day is growing at exponential rates. Many use cases now involve big data analytics - the process of extracting useful information from extremely large unstructured datasets. But with the traditional hardware-based storage model, moving large amounts of data from storage to the different users and applications that make use of it can be extremely difficult, time consuming, unsecure, and costly.
For example, an aircraft design team with members in various parts of the world may need to share the same set of CAD/CAM files. The time required to transmit terabyte or larger files between locations across a WAN or the internet each time changes are made would insert substantial delays into the collaboration process. What's needed is a means of having all the users share access to a central data repository. Rather than having to transmit the entire dataset every time it's updated, only the portion a particular user is working on need be sent to that location. Then, only the changes are transmitted back to the central site.

That's the great advantage of consolidating a company's data in the cloud. There is only a single centralized, authoritative copy of the data (appropriately replicated and backed up) which can be accessed and updated in real time by multiple local and remote users. Sophisticated file-sharing software, with intelligent file-locking capabilities is employed to prevent data corruption due to multiple users attempting simultaneous changes to the central file.
In effect, when data is consolidated in the cloud, large datasets can be made mobile by not moving them at all, except for small portions that are copied to the locations where they are actually used.
How Software Defined Storage Enables Cloud-based Data Mobility The key feature of SDS is that it abstracts storage system functionality from the hardware level into an overarching software layer. Users access the data through a unified "single pane of glass" software portal, regardless of the types, configurations, or geographical locations of the underlying storage devices.
The mix of storage hardware may include various combinations of inexpensive commodity hard disk drive (HDD) arrays, along with more costly but higher performance all-flash or hybrid HDD/SSD (Solid State Drive) devices. The SDS software manages them all as a single pool of storage, using policy-based programming to automatically allocate appropriate storage devices to applications based on the performance requirements of that particular workload.
SDS can even manage storage in multi-cloud or hybrid environments. Some enterprises make use of several different cloud providers for different aspects of their IT operation, while others divide their data between the cloud and their own on-site data center. In either case, a properly programmed SDS system can present users with a unified interface that spans the entire storage infrastructure and greatly simplifies the storage management task.
SDS Makes Effective Enterprise Data Mobility A Reality With SDS, the software provides a direct logical (rather than physical) connection between user and data, wherever that data may physically reside. Because of this inherent feature, a well designed SDS implementation can automatically deliver the anytime, anywhere, any-device access to data required to provide true enterprise data mobility.

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