Software-defined storage is changing how enterprises manage cloud storage systems. By separating storage control mechanisms from the underlying hardware, SDS gives IT departments more options for automation and provisioning. Moreover, it is a key component of the software-defined data center, which is characterized by improved agility, cost-effectiveness and flexibility.

Although some enterprises may be unfamiliar with software-defined technologies, it is likely that they have already utilized, or are currently using, similar features. In a piece for Enterprise Storage Forum, Drew Robb argued that there is a straight line from the success of virtualization to the emergence of SDS and related programs. More specifically, the ability to pool resources by using software is an evolution of sharing operating systems and applications over virtualized networks.

The greatest impact of SDS may be on cloud storage hardware. Where companies may have once relied on expensive proprietary appliances, SDS can be paired with industry-standard machines and disk drives to create a cost-effective, high-performing cloud architecture.

"Virtualized software is replacing specialized hardware in the data center," EMC chief technologist John Cooper told the source. "This makes IT into more of a broker of services such as virtual desktops, [software-as-a-service] applications, public cloud apps and private cloud apps."

However, custom-built clouds that use open source software and standard hardware require careful attention to the orchestration of all components. Writing for ReadWriteWeb, Arsalan Farooq portrayed the ideal SDDC as a well-coordinated unit that draws upon physical, virtual and cloud-based resources.

To get to that point, businesses may need to procure solutions from a variety of cloud providers that meet specific needs and work well in tandem. As an added benefit, an open architecture, software-defined cloud protects companies from vendor lock-in and accordingly enables changes down the line.

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