Wednesday, 13 June 2018 14:33

The data explosion: Why open source storage is the answer

Data is the main driver in today’s digital economy and organisations are increasingly facing storage growth that’s exceeding unprecedented levels.

Unstructured data in the form of audio, video, digital images and sensor data comprise of an increasingly large majority of business data and present a new set of challenges that calls for a different approach to storage.

New storage systems need to provide greater flexibility and choice, as well as the ability to better identify unstructured data in order to categorise, utilise and automate the management of it throughout its lifecycle.

The answer to solving the storage conundrum is software defined storage (SDS). SDS separates the physical storage hardware (data plane) from the data storage management logic or ‘intelligence’ (control plane). Requiring no proprietary hardware components, SDS is the perfect cost-effective solution for enterprises as IT can use off-the-shelf, low-cost commodity hardware which is robust and flexible.

A research paper by SUSE entitled Managing the Data Explosion Challenge with Open Source Storage, explores storage pain points impacting enterprises and how software-defined storage can help alleviate this problem.

Some key findings from the report include:

  • Scale-out SDS systems combine enterprise-class data protection and management with the improved economics of commodity server hardware, Ethernet connectivity and whatever mix of flash and disk best suits application needs. ƒ
  •  In the secondary storage space, unstructured data is growing at a greater rate than traditional database information, yet it shares many of the same critical concerns when it comes to data protection, availability and long-term management.  
  • Systems that offer close integration between Portable Operating System Interface (POSIX)-based file services and metadata-rich object storage capabilities provide the best balance between the need to support existing applications and a flexible environment for metadata-based automation and management that extends the value of data throughout its lifecycle.
  •  As secondary storage is the ultimate repository of all IT information, it’s important to thoroughly consider critical issues such as data protection, security, scalability, performance, availability, management and the flexibility to fit seamlessly into a hybrid strategy that increasingly extends beyond the traditional data centre.

The SUSE survey found that rising storage costs consistently ranks at the top of business concerns across the industry, but data growth is only one part of a more complex equation. The greatest ongoing cost for IT usually lies in system support and management. This was in line with customer uptake of SDS with ‘Simplify management of heterogeneous storage systems’ at the top of the list of reasons for adopting scale-out SDS on commodity hardware.

A viable solution is the use of open source storage. While this has been around for a long time, it was more commonly found in large computing, academic and research environments rather than in organisations. Today’s next-generation, open source platforms such as Ceph offer a viable alternative to proprietary secondary storage options, and offer a competitive mix of unified storage management, data protection and scale-out capabilities covering block, file and object storage.

Whether the underlying storage software is open source or commercial, adopting a modern SDS environment that will suit your long-term data challenges requires planning and forethought. The one thing that is clear is that taking the right approach to software-defined storage can provide organisations with a highly scalable solution that radically reduces storage costs in terms of both capital cost and operation expenditure while providing greater adaptability and simplicity in the management of your storage environment.


SUSE provides and supports enterprise-grade Linux and open source solutions with exceptional service, value and flexibility. With partners and communities, we innovate, adapt and deliver secure Linux, cloud infrastructure and storage software to create solutions for mixed enterprise IT environments. We help customers harness the benefits and power of an open enterprise that can empower their possibilities.

Follow @SUSE_ANZ on Twitter for local news, updates and events.

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