Say What? All The Software-Defined Storage Jargon, Defined

Whether you’re a seasoned veteran or you’re new to the world of storage, you’ve no doubt encountered terminology, acronyms, and jargon that made your head spin.

Here’s an A-Z list of the most common jargon you’ll encounter in the software-defined storage space (and yes, we’ll define that, too!), so you can do more than just nod along next time your team is facing a critical storage decision.

Automation: The management of storage infrastructure by intelligent software, which can store, allocate, optimize and access data automatically. This improves performance and optimizes hardware.

Capital Expense (CAPEX): The amount of money spent upfront to acquire new hardware or software.

Cloud Storage: A highly flexible and scalable storage model in which data is stored in multiple physical servers, which are typically owned by a hosting company and exist offsite. Data is accessible through a network, most often the Internet.

Commodity Hardware: Inexpensive hardware that is easy to obtain and usually interchangeable with other hardware of the same type. Commodity storage hardware is often used as part of the capacity pool for stale data in a system optimized by SDS.

Docker: The leading-edge software containerization platform, enabling developers to accelerate their production cycle and eliminate inconsistencies in their environment. Quality SDS can – and should – work in a Docker environment (Vicinity does, if you’re wondering!).

Hyperconvergence/ Hyperconverged system: This is an infrastructure system that integrates compute, storage, networking and virtualization resources. It features a software-centric architecture and centralizes the management of, and additions to, the system.

IOPS: A performance metric used to measure storage. It represents the total number of individual I/O operations being processed through a system in a given second.

Latency: The time required to process a single storage transaction or request. This is the measure of delay in a system.

Network Attached Storage (NAS): A single file-level data storage server connected to a group of clients, sharing its own storage over the network. It enables storage and retrieval of data from a centralized location.

Objective-Defined Software: A software only storage solution that is genuinely hardware agnostic and able to integrate together any of your existing SAN or NAS, future storage, commodity storage or even the cloud to create a single storage fabric that is able deliver exceptional outcomes and substantial cost savings.

Operating Expense (OPEX): The amount of money spent on using, managing and maintaining hardware and software. SDS can reduce storage OPEX through automation and other features.

Quality of Service (QoS): The real-time setting and enforcement of latency, bandwidth and performance over various workloads. Administrators define QoS policies (such as performance, capacity and data protection levels) for individual applications, or groups of applications, through a centralized dashboard. Vicinity QoS is unique in that it places active data on high performance media for fast access, and stale data on inexpensive, higher capacity media.

Server Storage Area Network (SAN): Offering many of the benefits of traditional SANs while reducing the complexity and costs, server SANs are software-led storage built on commodity servers with direct attached storage, designed to pool storage resources from multiple separate servers while leveraging commodity hardware.

Software-Defined Storage (SDS): An approach to data storage that decouples software from the underlying storage hardware in order to optimize storage capabilities. Its features typically include: dynamic storage optimization, agility, QoS, optimized costs, and vendor-neutrality.

Sprawl: Also known as virtualization sprawl, server sprawl, or Virtual Machine (VM) sprawl, this describes a situation in which the number of virtual machines on a network grows too large for administrators to manage efficiently.

Storage Area Network (SAN): A dedicated high-speed network of storage devices (such as tape drive storage and disk arrays) connected together, and to the server, to provide block level storage. Often costly and complex, SANs are giving way to more modern storage options like flash.

Many of these terms are not necessarily unique to SDS, but are used commonly enough when storage is being discussed to warrant an understanding. Once you’re able to speak the language, you’ll be able to make smarter decisions about vendors, expenditure and future-proofing your data.