6 Key Areas for Selecting the Best Software-defined Storage Solution

More organizations than ever plan to adopt public, private, and/or hybrid clouds. As they do, they must select and acquire solutions that align with these cloud types’ technical requirements. Selecting the most appropriate software-defined storage (SDS) solution for these clouds represents a key decision all organizations must make. Among them, enterprises must carefully consider multiple SDS features to make the best decision.
To help these organizations, DCIG plans to publish one or more TOP 5 reports focused on SDS block storage. In preparing these reports, DCIG identified and researched six topical areas that organizations typically evaluate when selecting an SDS solution. In so doing, organizations may use these TOP 5 reports to quickly develop a short list of solutions matching their requirements.

Six Topical Areas for Evaluating and Selecting the Best SDS Solution

1. Deployment

Unlike hardware storage solutions, organizations must examine the storage software more carefully as it will run in their environment. This means they must examine how they will deploy it in their environment. Features that DCIG examined around each solution included:

  • On-premise, hybrid, and public cloud deployment capabilities
  • Integration with available hypervisors
  • Availability as a virtual application
  • Certifications with equipment, operating systems, and applications
  • Level of support for existing storage protocol standards
  • Capacity capabilities
  • Multi-tenancy support

2. Data Protection

Data protection as it relates to SDS solutions encompasses their availability, encryption, replication, and snapshot features. These features protect organizational data from either intentional or unintentional loss.  In this vein, DCIG evaluated each solution’s respective ability to deliver on these four attributes.

3. Product and Performance Management

Organizations will find SDS solutions give them many more options to manage the underlying hardware and optimize it for performance. In these areas, DCIG evaluated the following SDS capabilities:

  • Product dashboard views
  • Predictive analytic
  • Storage optimization techniques such as compression and deduplication
  • Quality of Service (QoS) features that enable and prioritize performance
  • Auto-tiering capabilities
  • Tuning for IOPs and latency needs
  • Directory service integration and support

4. Documentation

The SDS solutions that DCIG evaluated ranged significantly in their levels of maturity. This product maturity shows up in ways other than simply how easy it is to deploy, manage, and optimize the solution. It also shows up in the breadth and depth of documentation that provider makes available.   In this area, DCIG evaluated the following:
6 Areas

  • The number and applicability of whitepapers that address specific application or system architectural questions
  • The availability of an online knowledge base
  • An active community forum for asking and searching questions and answers
  • Searchable, online user or administration manuals

5. Technical Support

Like documentation, the levels and types of technical support available from SDS solutions vary. DCIG always looks at this area and puts a lot of weight on each provider’s ability to deliver top notch technical support. While product features certainly matter, technical support often takes a close second. Key technical support features that DCIG evaluates include:

  • Hours of availability
  • Response time commitments to new cases
  • Ways to report and open new incidents
  • Escalation support
  • Proactive issue resolution

6. Licensing and Pricing

Licensing and pricing always garner attention. However, organizations should also consider these attributes in light of the underlying quality of the solution. Like most technologies, you tend to get what you pay for.  While DCIG does not formally evaluate product pricing in its final assessment, it does evaluate the following:

  • Bundled features or a la carte
  • Contract lengths
  • Pricing elements

The TOP 5 SDS Solutions Best Deliver on These Six Categories of Features

DCIG uses features within these six categories to evaluate and research SDS solutions to arrive at its TOP 5 recommendations. The first three areas focus more on the solution’s technical features while the last three come into play around ease-of-doing-business and ongoing operations.
As DCIG releases these TOP 5 reports in the upcoming months, organizations may confidently use these reports to quickly identify the best SDS solutions in the marketplace. They also provide a framework for organizations to ask better questions about the solution, shorten their purchase process, and experience the benefits of SDS.
If you’re interested in receiving notification of DCIG’s TOP 5 SDS-Block Storage reports and announcements of other TOP 5 reports DCIG may publish, then sign up for the DCIG weekly newsletter. Announcements will include links enabling individuals to download the reports at no cost.  Sign up for the free weekly DCIG Newsletter.

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