ScaleIO 2.0: another step in the journey to the software-defined data center

With EMC World 2016 just over the horizon, EMC made a couple announcements this week that I thought I would touch on.

The first of which is the reseller agreement with Dell to sell EMC’s portfolio of hyper-converged offerings from VCE, including the VCE VxRail Appliance family, the VCE VxRack System 1000 and the VXRack Node. There isn’t a ton to say on this other than it appears to be a smart and somewhat obvious move for both EMC and Dell. The move helps train the Dell sales team on an EMC solution that doesn’t directly compete with any of Dell’s existing intellectual property. And I bet it doesn’t hurt that the Dell sales team now will have some hyper-converged options that they can sell in the near term not named Nutanix.

The second announcement this week was the 2.0 release of ScaleIO, one of EMC’s software-defined storage (SDS) offerings. For those who may not be familiar with ScaleIO, it's a block-based SDS solution, one of the few out there in the industry today. It's available either as software or as an appliance, and can be deployed to provide external block storage or as the storage intelligence for a hyper-converged solution.

software defined data centerSDS-based solutions offer a number of potential disruptive capabilities. While some will talk about the potential to reduce capital costs by leveraging commodity hardware, the greater potential for SDS, however, is derived from its enhanced flexibility. Abstracting the storage intelligence from the underlying hardware offers organizations the ability to more easily adjust and adapt the storage infrastructure to the immediate demands of their workloads.

When looking to design an adaptable IT infrastructure, thoughts often turn to private cloud architectures. With the 2.0 release, ScaleIO is extending its support for OpenStack, a 3rd platform storage system for a 3rd platform workload. Combined with some “hardening” of capabilities, such as improved security and resiliency, ScaleIO appears to be increasing its appeal in the 3rd platform.

However, the flexibility offered by SDS has a cost. New complexities arise in hardware selection, deployment, configuration, and management for SDS-based solutions. The decisions and risks associated with the integration of hardware and software that were once taken care of by the storage provider are now the responsibility of the organization deploying the solution. These new complexities are why many SDS-based solutions are being deployed as integrated converged or hyper-converged solutions.

While the functionality added in ScaleIO 2.0 will enhance the VxRack solutions that leverage the technology, questions still remain whether enterprise organizations are ready to shift to a fully SDS-based ecosystem. As businesses seek to become more adaptable and flexible, so too must the underlying architectures (such as storage) also become adaptable. While Darwin never actually said, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most adaptable to change.” It doesn’t make the statement less true. This is the promise of SDS. ScaleIO 2.0 is a move in the right direction. Yet, I suspect the industry has a great deal more to do before the software-defined datacenter can truly become a reality.

As always, Let me know what you think. How far away are we from the software-defined data center?

software defined storage insight

Topics: Storage