Part 1 of a four-part series written by Andy Melmed, Senior Sales Engineer, that offers the Citrix community valuable insight into what the recent acquisition of Sanbolic, a long-time Citrix-Ready partner and pioneer of software-defined storage, means for Citrix, its customers, and the entire IT industry as it continues to embrace the benefits of software-defined storage and the new era of storage commoditization.

With storage playing such a crucial role in virtualization technologies, and software-defined storage and its many benefits being all the rage in the storage industry lately, many analysts and pundits believe software-defined storage (SDS) is on the verge of becoming one of the greatest contributors to successful server, desktop and application virtualization deployments the IT industry has ever seen. But like many new catchphrases and buzzwords, the more they’re used the more blurred their definitions often become. With this in mind, I thought it would be beneficial to preface this article with the definition of software-defined storage as stated by the well-known and widely acknowledged source: Wikipedia.

According to Wikipedia, “Software-defined storage is a term used to describe computer data storage technology that enables the rapid policy-based creation, deletion and management of data storage within private or public cloud infrastructure. Software-defined storage typically includes a form of storage virtualization to separate the storage hardware from the software that manages the storage infrastructure. The software enabling a software-defined storage environment may also provide policy management for feature options such as deduplication, replication, thin provisioning, snapshots and backup.”

Easily Satisfying The Criteria Described Above…

The SDx Platform from Sanbolic, whose Melio software has helped organizations worldwide realize the greatest value from their Citrix VDI deployments for many years, is a pure software-based SDS solution that allows customers to create their own (customized) storage systems using industry-standard compute and storage components. Such systems, whose intelligence is delivered through the Platform’s advanced software stack, offer superior
performance and scale-out capabilities (thousands of nodes and exabytes of storage capacity), as well as unparalleled resiliency, at significantly lower cost than traditional hardware-based storage arrays.

Note: The Term “Industry-Standard” Emphasized in Italics in the Previous Paragraph, Which One Could Easily Replace with the Word “Commodity.”

This is where the cost-benefit comes in. After all, why would you (or should you) pay the exorbitant price tag that accompanies proprietary hardware-based storage systems, along with the excessive fees for maintenance and support, and additional licensing costs typically incurred to enable (activate) one or more features (i.e., snapshots, mirroring, replication, tiering, etc.) that you’ll undoubtedly need sooner or later, when you can purchase the components that best meet your requirements (performance, capacity, budget, etc.) at a fraction of the cost and use the Sanbolic SDx Platform to deliver all the necessary storage management features upfront (no per-feature licensing costs incurred).

It’s about commoditization. The server industry went through it years ago with the advent of server virtualization and now the storage industry is (finally) going through it as well.

So how does the Sanbolic SDx Platform help organizations take advantage of the commoditization of storage — a paradigm shift that is rapidly (and radically) changing the storage industry as we know it?

Before we answer this question, let’s begin with a brief introduction for those new to the Sanbolic SDx Platform.

Comprised of several advanced software components, the Sanbolic SDx Platform runs on industry-standard server architectures and can be installed on physical and virtual machines (hosted by any hypervisor), as well as cloud instances. It is storage device and protocol agnostic, supporting both block- and file-based storage and works on multiple operating systems. The flexibility and versatility of the SDx Platform enables enterprise customers to deploy the software and realize its unique benefits regardless of infrastructure composition (physical server make/model, hypervisor or storage hardware) or scope (local or geo-distributed), making it truly unmatched as an SDS solution.

SDx Platform Components Include:

* Cluster volume manager – provides storage aggregation, storage virtualization, distributed storage controller functionality across servers, racks and data centers, and includes enterprise-class storage management capabilities such as software RAID, hybrid volume creation, dynamic volume expansion, live storage/data migration and much more

* Cluster file system – a one-of-a-kind, 64-bit symmetrical file system that enables logical volumes to be accessed concurrently at block level by multiple servers for application availability and scale-out

* Application-clustering module – allows enterprise workloads such as databases to be clustered for high availability and fluid migration (failover and load-distribution) across servers located in one or more (geo-distributed) data centers

In part two of this series, we’ll discuss how the Sanbolic SDx Platform improves company economics while making life at the office a lot easier for IT administrators.

About the author: As former VP of Enterprise Architecture & Solutions at Sanbolic and now second-time Citrite, Andy Melmed has written numerous blogs describing the extensive value-add that Sanbolic’s software-defined storage platform delivers to Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop customers worldwide, as well as configuration guides and reference architectures that include best practices for implementing Sanbolic’s software to help customers realize the greatest value from Citrix’s industry-leading desktop, application and mobility solutions.