The great vendor SDS swindle, and how to beat it

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Posted on Thursday, October 13, 2016

The future of on-premises storage is undeniably software defined. The flexibility and performance gains of abstracting management from the physical disks allows enterprises to build a scalable, performant data center to suit their changing needs. And most vendors are happy to support a software defined future – so long as it is their version of SDS.

The great SDS swindle

Some time ago OEMs realised that the industry move towards SDS would weaken their grip on corporate storage. The ability to commoditize storage reduces reliance on the vendor to provide value-add and licensing services – which is where their margins are greatest.

To address this potential issue, OEMs have created their own specific variants of software defined storage. In practice these solutions are merely an extension of existing systems – OEM-badged hardware and software throughout, with accompanying maintenance and support contracts to increase revenue.

There is some benefit to choosing OEM SDS over a vendor agnostic deployment. If you are already using and are familiar with that vendor’s software in standalone storage systems it is easy to implement, operate, and manage. However, in terms of flexibility, functionality, performance, and cost there is little to no gain at all.

Why vendor agnostic SDS is the smart choice

Choosing the storage system vendor’s SDS is a tacit agreement to another 3-5 years of vendor lock-in, immediately negating one of the biggest benefits of the technology – flexibility. Your data infrastructure needs to support flexibility and rapid expansion as standard – but vendor lock-in prevents both.

By choosing a vendor agnostic SDS infrastructure, you also commoditize storage. Under this scenario it is possible to choose the hardware that best suits your needs and budget. You can even redeploy post-warranty or EoSL equipment because the storage system vendor’s software management tools are redundant with those that come with SDS.

You are also free to build a best-of-breed platform that actually suits the specific needs of your organization – not the one-size-fits-all solution typically available from the storage system vendor. The CIO immediately regains complete control of data storage, freeing them to make strategic decisions that drive the company forward. And that’s precisely why OEMs storage system vendors fight tooth-and-nail to keep you in their ecosystem.

The main obstacle to vendor agnostic SDS is the escalating maintenance on post-warranty maintenance repurposed storage. Storage system vendors raise the maintenance costs to primarily motivate their users to upgrade to the latest and greatest storage systems. There is also solid rationale as parts for discontinued storage systems become harder to come by over time.

This discourages many users from deploying SDS and saving money. The dirty little secret is that these same vendors subcontract the maintenance of their competitor’s systems to third party service providers (to keep maintenance costs down) when those systems are repurposed behind their own SDS.

This is where CDS can help you unlock the value of vendor agnostic SDS by reducing the burden of those high vendor maintenance fees.

To learn more about SDS and how it will transform your data strategy, please get in touch.