B.Y.O.D. (Bring Your Own DISK); Thoughts on Wine, Virtualization and Storage Hypervisors for Free Choice
-George Teixeira, CEO & President, DataCore Software
On my last trip to Spain, I sat with a group of partners talking about wine and virtualization (a natural pairing, if I do say so myself). I love a restaurant where I can bring my own wine especially a good Rioja or Ribera del Duero if I choose, but this is not normal in most restaurants and certainly wasn’t the case on that particular night. Instead, I was locked into their wine list and could only order what they offered, at a very expensive markup.
So, what does that have to do with virtualization? Everything, when it comes to virtualizing the storage tier.
Everyone wants flexibility and choice without being locked-in to specific hardware requirements. This choice largely exists today in the server and desktop tiers, thanks to the widespread adoption of virtualization software. But when it comes to the storage tier, hardware vendors act like restaurants – they want to lock you into their proprietary product list and sell you the most exotic varieties at a huge markup. We believe in freeing customers from this flavor of hardware vendor lock-in by decoupling the virtual infrastructure from the underlying disks. This is what I’m calling B.Y.O.D. (Bring Your Own Disk).
Yes, I know it is supposed to stand for Bring Your Own Device, but I adopted the term for storage, why not, it’s my blog post and the same driving forces for choice apply equally well to the storage world.
We have to remember that virtualization isn’t just about consolidation anymore. It’s about getting the most out of your applications and creating agile and enduring infrastructures with software solutions that evolve and adapt over time. It’s about allowing you to select whatever hardware you want, to extend the useful life of that hardware, and to radically increase the ROI of your IT infrastructure over current levels.
There’s little doubt that pent up demand has storage hardware vendors hopeful. According to industry reports, the data storage market and capacity needs continue to increase. The recession may have deferred some buying decisions but the demand did not go away. There is now more pent up demand from those who deferred upgrades or avoided a refresh cycle. Clearly the recession had an impact but it does not signal a trend back to hardware dominated infrastructures. On the contrary, there remains a large appetite for clouds, virtual desktops, and storage virtualization, which highlights the increasing reluctance of buyers to rely strictly upon physical infrastructures.
Today, we take it for granted that the hardware server platforms have become less relevant and secondary to the virtualization efforts or what is being termed “Software-defined” infrastructures. When one deploys VMware or Microsoft Hyper-V, the first thought or care is not whether it will run on a Dell, HP, IBM or Intel server platform; that has become a secondary level concern. Software is in the driver seat in defining the architectures of the future. In this same way, the DataCore storage hypervisor does for storage what a server hypervisor does for servers. The hardware is secondary, it becomes interchangeable and new models or innovations (e.g., Flash storage) can “come and go” while the storage hypervisor endures, evolves and adapts to changes over the lifespan of the software-defined storage infrastructure.
The economy and rampant storage growth are also having a major impact on purchasing decisions. Customers are justifiably more cautious today than they were before the recession, and are, frankly, more savvy as to their options. They are eager for a cushion against the rapid obsolescence of hardware devices. When times got tough and budgets tight, the traditional “throw hardware at the problem” approach to capacity and performance planning is no longer an option, and they had no way to evolve their infrastructures to support better business continuity and agility. With traditional hardware-centric approaches, they couldn’t repurpose existing hardware, or easily bring new vendors into the mix. So in effect, they weren’t just locked into vendors; they were locked into failure.
I believe that we will look back on this era as the turning point for storage hardware, and the end of the “throw hardware at the problem” mentality. Enterprises don’t want to select their storage off a proprietary overpriced list anymore. They want B.Y.O.D. (freedom in their disk storage purchases). They want to make more use out of what they have, and to have unlimited choice when it comes to purchasing new hardware. This is the power of a storage hypervisor and the storage virtualization software advantage – it breaks vendor lock-in and enables enterprises to realize the business benefits and better economics that caused them to explore virtualization in the first place.
Storage virtualization software change the economics and empower users with greater flexibility and freedom of choice…