Storage infrastructure that is managed and automated by intelligent software as opposed to by the storage hardware itself. In this way, the pooled storage infrastructure resources in a software-defined storage (SDS) environment can be automatically and efficiently allocated to match the application needs of an enterprise.
Separating the Storage Hardware from the Software
By separating the storage hardware from the software that manages the storage infrastructure, software-defined storage enables enterprises to purchase heterogeneous storage hardware without having to worry as much about issues such as interoperability, under- or over-utilization of specific storage resources, and manual oversight of storage resources.
The software that enables a software-defined storage environment can provide functionality such as deduplication, replication, thin provisioning, snapshots and other backup and restore capabilities across a wide range of server hardware components. The key benefits of software-defined storage over traditional storage are increased flexibility, automated management and cost efficiency.
Software-Defined Storage is Not Storage Virtualization
Software-defined storage is sometimes confused with the term storage virtualization, but as an article from CRN explains, while the latter term involves separating capacity from specific storage hardware resources (and thereby pooling storage devices), SDS involves separating the storage capabilities and services from the storage hardware.
Prominent examples of software-defined-storage include OpenStack, EMC ViPR, Nexenta and HP StoreVirtual.