How To Explain Software-Defined Storage To A Five-Year-Old

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software-defined storage

The experts crack the software-defined storage conundrum so you (or your five-year-old) doesn’t have to

Do you know what software-defined storage is? We image most five-year-olds don’t, but it’s also a concept that IT workers can also struggle with. If you’ve arrived at this article we’re assuming you’re shaping your child into a technology prodigy or, more likely, you’d like software-defined storage explained to you in layman’s terms.

Below we’ve compiled the thoughts of six storage experts to explain to you: what is software-defined storage?

software-defined storage

 Joe Fagan, a senior director for cloud initiative at Seagate, explains:

“Software-defined storage is a bit like Lego! It all fits and works together but a brick that’s not doing much today can be transformed into a hard-working brick tomorrow. What’s so clever about this is that these Lego bricks are told what to do by some very clever software in the ‘Orchestration’ layer. Software is a bit like a book of instructions that tells the Lego (the hardware) what to do.

“The great thing about Software-defined storage is that it can offer companies data storage that can change and grow as and when more or less storage space is needed.”

Antivirus firm Bitdefender threw its chief security strategist forward to explain software-defined storage. Catalin Cosoi says:

“Probably the best way to explain software-defined storage to a 5 year old would be to compare it with a real-life situation he can relate to…

“Imagine Billy asks his mum for breakfast. He says he wants a peanut butter sandwich and some orange juice. His mother goes to the refrigerator and pulls out all the ingredients. Billy doesn’t know, or care, how those ingredients got in the fridge, as long as he gets his peanut butter sandwich and orange juice. Mum’s job is to make sure all those ingredients are in the fridge, that they’re always accessible when Billy asks for something, and that, if something getssoftware-defined storage spoiled, it won’t affect other products (if there’s a rotten orange, mum throws it out before it spoils the rest). So, Billy doesn’t have to worry about questions such as “is there enough space in the fridge to fit all ingredients?” or “where should I place the peanut butter so that I can reach it faster when I open the refrigerator door?” Mum takes care of the storage logistics and makes sure that nothing gets spoiled, and Billy enjoys his breakfast.”

Director of product management at ManageEngine, Rajesh Ganesan, explains:

“Software defined storage is similar to a vending machine. You can get candy bars, sodas, M&Ms, bottled water and many other things from one machine, but then each product is managed and stocked by different companies. Does that prevent you in any way from getting what you want? Not at all! And you only have to deal with one vending machine.

“So how does this help you understand software define storage? Similar to a vending machine, data storage environments hold many different storage devices from a range of vendors. So like having a variety of products to pick from in one place, software defined storage gives you one big place to store data, and a range of devices to do so. Now you only have to deal with one big system, instead of lots of little ones, just like a vending machine.”

Molly Rector is the chief marketing officer at high-performance computing vendor DDN. Molly likens software-defined storage to a microwave. She says:

“Software Defined Storage is all about making storing and accessing data easy – an analogy is best to explain.  Imagine using a modern microwave.  It shows you the time automatically, has many pre-programmed buttons to cook common products, and can be “programmed” intuitively software-defined storagefor custom cooking by setting time and power through a touchpad.  This is what SDS does for data storage.  Simple interface with pre-programmed settings to move data across different storage tiers and make access to data simple for the average person.  And IF a programmer wants to customize, SDS makes that easier than digging through APIs and CLIs with 100 page document sets.”

Nexenta’s EMEA SE director, Neil Stobart, goes back to the Lego analogy to help explain software-defined storage. He says:

“Software-Defined Storage is a special product that keeps lots of information stored away all tidy and neat. In other words it’s like lego. We all love tipping our lego boxes out on the bedroom floor so we can find the right coloured bricks – otherwise it can take forever, digging around the box for that one piece of lego to finish off the building. Once you finish playing with your lego you have to tidy it all away and put it back in your box otherwise your mum will get cross.

“Software-Defined Storage is like a special lid that you can put on top of your lego box. Once you have put all the bricks away the special lid keeps it all tidy and neat so next time you want tosoftware-defined storage play with your lego, it’s really easy to find the pieces of lego you need. The lid works with the box to keep everything in order, all the red bricks stay together, all the blue bricks stay together and all the yellow bricks stay together. Even all those small pieces you can never find, they are all in order to. Imagine that – a lego box that keeps its all tidy. You will never have to tip your lego out again.”

Finally, Brent Lees, product marketing manager at Riverbed Technology, says:

“Software-defined storage (SDS) is a method of storing data where the software that controls storage-related tasks is separated from the physical storage. Imagine the storage is a plane. To make a paper plane fly, you have to physically have contact with the plane to fly it (throw it), but an electric plane can be used remotely using a controller, so you do not physically have to touch the “storage” to control it.”

Now you know all about software-defined storage, can you answer these questions about flash memory correctly?


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