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The market leader and the market newbie: a Software-Defined Storage comparison


Headshot1.jpgBy Kate Davis, @KateAtHP, WW Marketing Manager, HP Software-Defined Storage


It’s been a year since I wrote my first article on Software-Defined Storage. At that time we were at the definition stage – what does the Software-Defined Storage (SDS) term mean, and what products fit that category. Since then, the term SDS has become widely known and accepted, as Gartner shared last fall at its Symposium that SDS was the #2 trend behind SDN (Software-Defined Networking).


On the flip side, it’s been an interesting year watching all the vendors that play in this space: how many use the self-proclaimed term “leader” in their marketing, how many start-ups are getting funding by throwing the term SDS around, and who has joined the market.


One thing that’s been missing is the market: How big is the market? How is it growing? Who are the major players? Who’s the real leader?


Interpreting new SDS market data

I was happily surprised to see the first market data out last Friday. Wikibon has released a new report that’s a compilation of basic market data, growth rates and a leader board. If you read my last article, Where, how and why we're taking the lead, you know that our HP StoreVirtual VSA product has been around for a while, is well featured and has a large adoption rate. So it may not surprise you to see from Wikibon’s report that HP owns 37% of the Server SAN market as Wikibon calls it and thus is the market leader with Nutanix and SimpliVity taking spots two and three respectively.


























Though on the bottom of this list, the newest entrant to this market, VMware, has done a good job educating server admins and virtualization experts on the concept of virtualizing storage and implementing SDS. I’ve been to several conferences and training sessions this year and I always get the question:


How does StoreVirtual VSA compare to VMware VSAN?

Now that the basic concept of using server-side storage is gaining mindshare, it’s important to first understand the different ways SDS can be deployed. StoreVirtual VSA is deployed within a VM and consumes storage internal or external to the server. VMware VSAN is a feature within vSphere 5.5 U1 that only consumes internal disks on the server.


One thing I want to call out here is the performance difference of running storage as a VM versus being built into the hypervisor. It’s the same as when server virtualization was introduced. If server virtualization was to be an equal alternative to physical servers, then performance characteristics of running as a VM needed to be similar. Because of this, VMware has worked over the past couple of years to reduce the performance penalty and overhead of VMs running on a hypervisor. As a result, storage virtualization takes advantage of this “performance parity” of VMs versus physical servers. So whether the storage functionality resides within the hypervisor or as a VM in a vSphere environment, the performance difference is negligible. 


Here’s the basic comparison of features, functionality and design constructs for HP StoreVirtual VSA and VMware VSAN:


HP StoreVirtual VSA


Deployed as

Software in VM on hypervisor

Feature within hypervisor


Licensed by capacity

Choice of 4TB, 10TB, 50TB

Licensed by CPU


3 years 9x5 support included in all licenses

Support is an additional fee

Maximum capacity

Up to 1.6PB within single management group;

32 node max per best practice

Up to 35 drives per server; 32 node max

Storage consumption

Any type of SSD, HDD, PCIe storage;

Internal server disks, External DAS or iSCSI/FC SAN;

No disk configuration requirements

Certified SSD, HDD and PCIe storage;

Internal server disks;

Minimum 1 SSD or PCIe and 1 HDD required for all configurations

Hardware support

Any server hardware that has been certified for vSphere or qualified for Hyper-V

Servers, disks, and controllers that have been certified specifically for VSAN

Hypervisor support

VMware ESX/ESXi 4.0/4.1/5.0/5.1/5.5

 Microsoft Hyper-V Windows Server 2008/2008 R2/ 2012/2012 R2

VMware ESXi 5.5U1

Management tools

HP StoreVirtual CMC

VMware vCenter Server

Microsoft SCOM


VMware vCenter Server


Storage is usable by any virtual server, VM, or physical server on the network;

Minimum of 2 server nodes required to create storage pool which is accessible to all

Storage is only usable by those virtual servers that have a VSAN license enabled;

Minimum of 3 server nodes required to create storage pool for specified VSAN storage cluster


Offers single or stretched clusters and transparent application failover

Only offers single cluster support. No transparent failover if a site goes down


For capacity expansion, upgrade licenses are available to grow from one capacity level to another (i.e. 4 to 50TB);

Also, scale from software to hardware-based appliances with the StoreVirtual 4000 Storage series

Software only, not expandable past the vSphere cluster, no enterprise hardware version


Data mobility allowed across clusters, tiers, generations, hypervisors, and between hardware and software platforms

Data mobility via vMotion within the cluster


As you can see there’s a lot to compare with the product and much more to cover, so I put more information in a pdf (located at the bottom of the page) to share with you.


Taking an open approach

HP has taken the initiative to be an open company to support all different types of software from hypervisors to applications to management and orchestration pieces. This openness allows us to help you build solutions that are a right fit for your environment today and have a flexible nature to adapt to changes in the future. As you can see from this table, we’re not completely alone in this area. 79% of the products in Wikibon’s Server SAN report support two or more hypervisors.


























Our VSA has had support for both VMware vSphere and Microsoft Hyper-V for a few years now and you’ll see an expansion of hypervisor support by both our StoreVirtual VSA and StoreOnce VSA products this year as it’s important to have flexibility for any environment. Stay tuned, there’s more to come.

About the Author


I have been working across the HPE portfolio for over 12 years marketing hot topics including storage, software-defined, big data and hybrid cloud.


Nice post Kate! Very informative.

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