SanDisk recently announced an investment in Nexenta, a Seagate Cloud Builder Alliance partner specializing in software-defined storage technologies. The move underscores the growing momentum of SDS within the enterprise, with more companies keen to lower total cost of ownership for data centers by deploying open source software atop industry-standard cloud hardware.

Nexenta’s NexentaStor platform already has more than 5,000 customer deployments in private and public clouds, with 800 petabytes of data under management. The solution’s compatibility with platforms such as CloudStack and OpenStack give users a high degree of flexibility in building cost-effective, scalable IT architectures.

Moreover, its innovations in SDS have demonstrated strong enterprise demand for new storage paradigms. Applying an abstraction layer across heterogeneous appliances is a way to reduce costs on both the hardware and software sides, since equipment need not be proprietary and management solutions can be open source.

With flash-based storage becoming the backbone of running intensive applications quickly and with less power usage than HDDs, SDS offers the promise of further efficiency gains. For example, the ability to save on hardware and build customized infrastructure rather than adopt integrated solutions lets enterprises create more scalable clouds.

“SDS and flash-based storage solutions are both complementary and disruptive technologies in the enterprise,” stated SanDisk executive vice president and chief strategy officer Sumit Sadana. “Together, these technologies offer the capability to deploy high-performance, scalable solutions with significantly improved total cost of ownership that customers are looking for.”

SDS could have a pivotal year in 2014, although buyers and vendors must be careful to adapt to the new commercial environment. Customers must ensure that they have the technical expertise to implement SDS, and that the solutions in question aren’t simply rebranded legacy products. For vendors, opening up integrated platforms to others may be a way to ease more enterprise users into SDS, given the technology’s sometimes steep do-it-yourself learning curve

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