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Software-defined storage predicted to go mainstream in 2017

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Software-defined storage is set to become mainstream this year, George Teixeira, president, global chief executive and co-founder of DataCore predicts.

In a detailed interview with iTWire, Teixeira said it had become obvious that servers were the new storage, and that customers wanted the flexibility, efficiency, and ease of working with software-defined data services that could be deployed on off-the-shelf servers.

"The combination not only makes economic sense, but by moving storage control and management to a software-defined layer, the ability to work with different platforms and migrate and incorporate both private and public cloud infrastructures is greatly eased and becomes practical for more organisations," he said.

Teixeira has been with Datacore since its inception in 1998. Before that he held executive management positions including that of worldwide vice-president of marketing and general manager of the Product Business Group at Encore Computer Corporation, where he was team leader of OEM marketing and sales to Amdahl, IBM, and DEC.

He was closely involved with the US$185 million sale of Encore's storage control business to Sun Microsystems in 1997. He also held a number of senior management positions at the Computer Systems Division of Gould Electronics.

Teixeira was interviewed by email.

iTWire: DataCore has had numerous dedicated software SAN virtualisation appliance vendors as competitors since it began business in 1998. Only IBM seems to have survived along with DataCore. What's the difference between you and IBM and other competition?

George Teixeira: We have been a pure software solution since we started the company. Our software runs on any x86 off-the-shelf server or in fact we can run on a virtual machine and therefore do not require new hardware. This is unlike IBM and others which sold the solution as an appliance requiring their own proprietary hardware.

George Teixeira.Our customers like the flexibility that comes from a software-only solution, but some are looking for the simplicity of a turnkey appliance. Recently with the announcement by Lenovo of their turnkey appliance, the DX8200D Powered by DataCore, customers can simplify their entry into the world of software-defined storage and enjoy the benefits of DataCore's software pre-integrated with (and fully supported by) Lenovo.

Can you explain, as simply as possible, how DataCore’s technology works?

DataCore’s SANsymphony software-defined storage product pools diverse storage despite differences and incompatibilities among manufacturers, models, and generations of equipment. The software can span multiple locations and devices to bring them under the control of a common set of enterprise-wide data services for management automation and infrastructure simplification.

DataCore's hyper-converged virtual SAN software provides similar services using the internal or direct-attached storage spread across physical or virtual servers in a cluster. DataCore breaks down vendor-specific silos of management and allows all current and future storage investments to be fully utilised across the infrastructure, including the ability to automatically tier data with differing performance requirements across diverse storage devices.

The software also protects and makes data continuously available so that there is no disruption to applications. In addition, our self-learning caching and adaptive parallel-IO provide the highest performance and fastest response times in the industry by utilising the idle multi-cores within servers to power I/O processing requests.

How does your software-defined storage solution differ from that offered by Red Hat? Or from that offered by SUSE Linux?

Red Hat and SUSE Linux are really competitive with operating systems like Microsoft Windows Server 2016, they all have some basic levels of storage management and are focused at file level storage versus disk, flash and SAN infrastructures.

DataCore can handle enterprise workloads, support not only iSCSI but fibre channel connectivity and drive database and high intensity transaction oriented workloads. The big differences that DataCore offers, as mentioned above, are working across diverse storage types and generations, providing enterprise-class storage services that span the entire infrastructure of storage devices, and offering continuous availability and performance levels multiple times higher than these more basic platforms can deliver.

Given recent acquisitions, is there pressure from your investors for an IPO in the years ahead? You have said in the past that reaching a US$100 million level of revenue would be a trigger for an IPO; does this still hold good?

We, like our investors, always want to maximise value. In our case our employees, inner circle and management make up a major part of the ownership and therefore the pressure comes not from outside but internally from our own people to grow and make DataCore a great company.

We have been cash profitable for a number of years, and we invest in our growth. Frankly, IPOs and their timing are always subject to marketplace timing windows, but yes, in general, growing software companies that reach the US$100 million level are typically good candidates for IPO.

If that happened would it not affect the culture that has helped DataCore survive this long?

I think the culture is instilled in the people and has been in place for many years so I believe it sustains. Clearly an IPO does have an impact and it all depends on valuations and how the proceeds are used. But our culture is in our core.

How much of your business comes from Asia-Pac and North America these days? Or is it still skewed towards Europe?

The majority of our business is still in Europe. However we have recently seen nice double-digit growth in Asia-Pac; our multi-year plan is to generate 25% of the business from Asia-Pac and split the rest between the Americas and EMEA.

How does DataCore’s growth in Australia compare to other markets?

Very similar to what we are seeing across the world, year-over-year we are now seeing double-digit growth in software-defined storage sales and triple-digit growth in our hyper-converged virtual SAN business.

Australia and New Zealand have always been early adopters of new technologies. We saw this in compute virtualisation where adoption was early and the region continues to lead the world in terms of compute virtualisation of the data centre. I fully expect to see this leading adoption moving into storage infrastructure.

We are confident we can accelerate this adoption in ANZ with emphasis on the idea of an SDS appliance to make it easier for customers to get started on adopting software-defined storage. Our engineering is focused on ease of use and automation. We are adding resources to our ANZ team and we have a strong focus on our work with Lenovo to provide turnkey SDS appliances powered by DataCore. We believe these appliances will further fuel even higher growth rates and greater adoption of SDS in Australia.

Can you provide an overview of DataCore’s Australian strategy for the next 12 months; where do you see the biggest opportunities?

In the past we focused more in the Sydney and Melbourne areas, we now have customers throughout Australia and we see partnering with key distributors, system integrators and select value-added resellers across Australia to help increase our reach. In addition for this year, we will be putting a major focus on working with Lenovo and their partners to drive faster adoption of the turnkey Lenovo DX8200D software-defined storage appliances powered by DataCore.

What do you see as the future of software-defined storage in Australia,? And why do you believe 2017 is the year SDS will start to become mainstream?

It has become obvious that "servers are the new storage", and customers want the flexibility, efficiency, and ease of working with software-defined data services that can be deployed on off-the-shelf servers, the combination not only makes economic sense but by moving storage control and management to a software-defined layer, the ability to work with different platforms and migrate and incorporate both private and public cloud infrastructures is greatly eased and becomes practical for more organisations.

If there any information you can share around what DataCore is doing next? Any product focuses or innovations the local market should be aware of?

Beyond software-defined storage, we plan to build on our parallel I/O technologies to identify new market opportunities. We believe the technology is a game-changer for OEMs and ISVs focusing on big-data performance, databases and real-time analytic solutions. DataCore parallel I/O technologies can be used to target vertical markets such as financial, healthcare, IoT and manufacturing, which are in need of high-velocity transactional performance and real-time response rates. Stay tuned for more news on this front this year.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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