IDC believes that software-defined storage (SDS) continues to transform IT deployment and
consumption of storage resources. For enterprises, SDS is really an on-ramp to deploying a hybrid
cloud — one that allows a metered on-demand consumption of private and public cloud resources.
Deploying SDS therefore is not a question of "if" but a question of "when." IDC's August 2015
Software-Defined Infrastructure Survey found that 75% of enterprises have deployed or are
considering deploying some form of SDS in their environment. For such enterprises, the question of
"why" is adequately clarified. In fact, IDC found that 61% of enterprises that deployed SDS have
realized tangible benefits such as reduction in capex/opex costs, ease of management, reduction in
provisioning time, and peace of mind knowing that they are no longer locked into a single vendor
solution. IDC believes that SDS is compelling enterprises to switch from a pattern of selecting systems
based on their capacity, performance, reliability, and cost characteristics to a service-focused
decoupled acquisition model in which hardware and software are acquired independent of each other.
Furthermore, the software in question (i.e., SDS) is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. In fact, for
enterprises and vendors to succeed with SDS, they have to take a use case–driven approach:
Block-based SDS platforms serve as persistent storage for virtual machines, containers, and
physical servers used primarily for structured data sets and applications such as relational and
File-based SDS platforms, including distributed file systems that serve as repositories for
unstructured data, are used primarily for user and application data via standard datacenterbased
POSIX interfaces like NFS and SMB.
Object-based SDS platforms are used for large globally dispersed repositories and data with
rich metadata requirements and are increasingly used for next-generation applications (NGAs)
that access data storage via RESTful APIs like S3 and Swift.
Hyperconverged platforms are used in cases where compute and data layers need to be
adjacent — in use cases such as virtual server and virtual desktop infrastructure.
IBM deserves the spotlight for assembling a full-service SDS portfolio under the Spectrum family of
products. IBM's vision demonstrates that an incumbent storage vendor can be a leader in the nascent
SDS market. There is much work to be done by IBM and others to convince the rest of the market to