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Managing Data Explosion with Software-Defined Storage (SDS)

Managing Data Explosion with Software-Defined Storage (SDS)

Blog Article Published: 07/12/2023

Originally published by Sangfor.

Written by Nicholas Tay Chee Seng, CTO, Sangfor Cloud.

A New Era of Massive Data Generation

The vast amount of data generated on a daily basis by industries and large organizations worldwide is growing at an outstanding rate. Statista forecasts that the total amount of data generated globally in 2023 will reach 97 zettabytes (ZB), that’s 97 followed by twenty-one zeros (97,000,000,000,000,000,000,000) in bytes, or 97 trillion GB! This figure is expected to almost double to 181 ZB in a space of two years by 2025. This astronomical volume of data needs to be stored not only for analytical purposes but also in compliance with data protection laws relating to data governance, security, and audit. However, Statista reports that "just two percent of the data produced and consumed in 2020 was saved and retained into 2021." Storage management is a major area of concern in this era of Big Data and AI due to the inability of existing storage devices to scale up capacity and performance at the rate of the data growth. These storage requirements have become complex and thus need to be addressed in a holistic approach. This article examines the challenges of storing large volumes of data and presents the case for software-defined storage (SDS) as the ideal solution for mitigating these challenges.

Data Storage Challenges

Organizations and industries worldwide are undergoing rapid transformation fueled by emerging technologies such as Big Data, Cloud Computing, AI, and 5G as part of their digitalization journey and further accelerated by Covid. As businesses and services become more diverse, they generate a greater variety of data (structured, semi-structured, and unstructured) at higher volumes and velocities, known as the three Vs of big data. This poses many challenges to their existing traditional storage architectures. Let’s examine what these challenges in more detail.

Rapid data growth leads to high TCO

Traditional storage hardware needs to be refreshed when it reaches its full storage capacity or end of life, and the cost of this technology refreshment is very high. Newly purchased equipment requires data migration, which consumes a large amount of resources like manpower and capital. Moreover, the accessories of traditional storage are sold in bundles. To expand the capacity, you can only purchase the original hard disks and specific hardware, which are more costly.

Inflexible capacity expansion

Traditional storage devices can only be scaled out per disk group or disk array, and the performance is limited by the storage controller. As a result, the larger the capacity expansion, the more serious the performance degradation.

Unable to meet high throughput demands

The performance of traditional storage architectures is limited by storage controllers, preventing them from delivering high throughput performance. Performance degradation is severe when the amount of unstructured data exceeds 100 million objects, leading to instability.

Operations and maintenance difficulties

Traditional storage devices are managed in isolation, making it diffi­cult to troubleshoot faults quickly when they arise. Separate storage devices need to be purchased for different business applications, preventing unified management and contributing to high overall operational, management, and staff costs.

Software-Defined Storage: The Solution to Today’s Data Explosion

Software-Defined Storage (SDS) uses software to consolidate storage resources into a storage resource pool for elastic expansion and on-demand allocation. Let’s explore how SDS works and how it benefits organizations.

How Software-Defined Storage Works

Software-Defined Storage (SDS) is a storage architecture that uses software to control and manage storage resources instead of relying solely on physical hardware. By separating the storage infrastructure from the physical hardware through a software layer, SDS enables dynamic allocation, virtualization, and abstraction of storage resources.

In an SDS environment, the software layer serves as an intermediary between the applications that require storage and the underlying physical storage devices, such as hard drives or solid-state drives. This layer handles various tasks, including data storage, access, and management, while presenting a unified and simplified interface to the applications.

When a file or data is saved, the SDS software receives the request and employs intelligent algorithms to determine the most appropriate location for storing the data. It can distribute the data across multiple storage devices, optimizing performance and capacity utilization. Additionally, SDS may create redundant copies of data to ensure high availability and fault tolerance, safeguarding against hardware failures.

The Benefits of Software-Defined Storage

Software-Defined Storage provides one-stop operations and maintenance with one-click monitoring and migration for easier data management. There is no need to purchase new software licenses when refreshing the hardware as only the physical storage device will be replaced, resulting in significant cost savings. Other key benefits include:

Distributed Architecture for Flexible Expansion

Software-defined storage adopts a distributed architecture, which enables organizations to scale out storage on-demand to accommodate growing data volumes and performance requirements. This approach eliminates the need for meticulous planning in advance when existing storage resources no longer meet requirements.

Parallel Processing for High Performance

Software-defined storage delivers extremely high throughput and IOPS performance through multi-node parallel data processing. Simply put, multiple storage nodes work together in a coordinated manner to process and handle data requests. By distributing the workload across these nodes, the system can achieve higher performance levels compared to traditional storage systems.

Manage the Entire Cluster in One Interface

Software-defined storage solutions provide a single management interface that unifies the management of block, file, and object storage resources. Instead of managing each storage type separately with different tools and interfaces, SDS simplifies the management process by providing a unified view and control over all storage resources.

Software-Defined Architecture for Lower TCO

Software-defined storage help organizations lower TCO by constructing storage resource pools using storage virtualization on standard X86 servers, which are widely available and more affordable than proprietary storage systems. The consolidated storage platform reduces upfront hardware costs, maintenance expenses, and management complexity associated with maintaining multiple storage systems.


In conclusion, the exponential growth of data generated by industries and organizations highlights the pressing need for effective storage solutions. Existing storage devices simply cannot keep up with the ever-increasing capacity and performance requirements. However, software-defined storage (SDS) emerges as an ideal solution to address these challenges.

SDS is an effective solution that dynamically allocates storage resources based on the specific needs of business applications. By offering a range of storage options, including high-performance storage and low-cost large-capacity storage, SDS ensures organizations can effectively meet their diverse storage requirements. SDS supports block, file, and object storage within a single physical or virtual appliance, providing organizations with a simple and cost-effective storage solution fit for the modern era.

Moreover, SDS's distributed architecture allows for seamless scalability of both capacity and performance, effortlessly accommodating the ever-growing demand for data storage. This scalability, combined with the platform's ability to deliver ultra-high performance at a competitive cost, positions SDS as a powerful and comprehensive solution for storing large volumes of data in a rapidly evolving technological landscape.

About the Author

Nicholas has an extensive career spanning over 20 years, during which he has played a major role in the ideation, formulation, and co-creation of new cloud solutions for both enterprise and government sectors. His expertise spans across multiple domains including Cloud, Data Centre, Network & Connectivity, which he blends to support organizational Digital Transformation & Modernization and Industry 4.0, including 5G. His proficiency is backed by various sales and pre-sales certifications from key global technology firms such as Sangfor, AWS, Microsoft Azure, Dell EMC, Google, IBM, NetApp, Oracle, Red Hat, and VMware, enabling him to adopt the latest global technology trends, especially in the cloud domains.

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