The 40 Coolest Software-Defined Storage Vendors: The 2021 Storage 100
The 40 coolest software-defined storage vendors of the 2021 Storage 100 bring software capabilities, services and cloud connectivity to storage technology.
Storage arrays are no longer built around hardware.
Instead, it is the software that defines the services customers derive from their storage systems, software that may run on general-purpose hardware, in a virtual machine or container, or in the cloud.
Nearly all developers of storage systems are at heart software-defined storage developers. As part of CRN’s 2021 Storage 100, here are 40 of these companies.
Cloudian develops file and object storage technology with a focus on AWS S3-compatible cloud-based object storage. It offers a flash storage-optimized version of its HyperStore object storage software, its Cloudian Kubernetes S3 Operator to support container-based applications, and its HyperIQ monitoring and observability technology.
DataCore was a pioneer in the development of software-defined storage for block, file and object storage that can be deployed on servers and storage to pool and virtualize multivendor storage, storage servers or hyperconverged clusters. The company recently acquired object storage vendor Caringo.
Co-Founder, Chairman, CEO
DDN, which until last year was known as DataDirect Networks, was a pioneer in object storage and has made several acquisitions in the enterprise storage market, including software-defined storage developer Nexenta, NVMe all-flash and hybrid flash storage developer IntelliFlash, and Tintri, which develops all-flash storage for virtualized environments.
Dell has been the world’s largest public storage vendor for years thanks to its 2016 acquisition of EMC, with a wide range of primary and secondary storage based on its software and on that of VMware, which came with EMC. Dell in 2020 launched its PowerStore line of scalable all-flash storage to unify its multiple lines of midrange storage.
Excelero is the developer of NVMesh, a low-latency distributed block storage for web-scale applications that pools NVMe storage across networks at local speeds and latencies, providing the performance of local flash-based storage with centralized management. NVMesh supports any hardware and such protocols as NVMe over Ethernet and InfiniBand.
Hewlett Packard Enterprise
HPE is a top vendor in storage hardware and software sales, and a leader in storage intelligence thanks to its acquisition of Nimble. HPE offers AI-driven self-healing and self-optimized storage capabilities for its Nimble and HPE Primera lines, including all-NVME support for Primera and storage-class memory for Nimble.
Hitachi Vantara was formed from the combination of Hitachi Data Systems, Lumada and Pentaho. It is focused on combining primary storage with big data and comprehensive data management, and has significantly expanded its Kubernetes, midsize storage, and cloud and IoT capabilities.
IBM continues to rely less on hardware and more on its IBM Spectrum line of software-defined storage technology. The company early this year expanded its entry-level flash storage with full container support, and is working with Pure Storage’s Portworx on Kubernetes data management.
Infinidate focuses on technology to build multi-petabyte storage infrastructures with high availability and reliability. The company last year introduced NVMe over Fabric technology along with free data migrations for new customers and a 100 percent data guarantee.
iXsystems develops a line of servers and storage systems, the latter of which are built on OpenZFS storage technology. Its TrueNAS appliances offer file, block and object storage while its TrueRack systems converge server and storage technology as a way to offer cloud capabilities at a lower cost than AWS, it has said.
Lenovo’s ThinkSystem storage systems include all-flash and hybrid flash arrays, with its newest being the Lenovo ThinkSystem DM5100F, an all-NVMe flash storage array. Lenovo, via its ThinkAgile line, also partners with several software-defined storage technology developers including Nutanix, Microsoft and VMware.
Lightbits Labs, which c o u n t s among its investors Cisco, Dell Technologies, Intel and Micron, develops a software-defined scale-out NVMe-over-TCP software-defined disaggregated storage that separates storage and compute without touching the network infrastructure or data center customers.
Linbit is a developer of open-source block storage technology targeting Kubernetes, OpenStack, OpenNebula and other technologies. Its Linstor technology offers native integration to Kubernetes to simplify the building, running and controlling of block persistent storage for containerized environments.
Composable infrastructure developer Liqid’s Matrix CDI technology lets businesses quickly provision, scale and redeploy bare-metal infrastructure via software using industry-standard compute, networking, storage, GPU, FPGA and Intel Optane memory devices via the company’s intelligent fabric.
Anand Babu Periasamy
MinIO develops a high-perf o r m a n c e Kubernetes-native object storage suite targeting hybrid cloud environments. The software-defined distributed object storage system runs on industry-standard hardware and aims to deliver a consistent experience across every Kubernetes environment.
NetApp may be best-known for its all-flash storage, but the company is the pioneer in developing a data fabric that seamlessly connects on-premises storage infrastructures to public and hybrid clouds, and was among the first to bring its software off proprietary appliances to run in the cloud to let businesses manage data wherever and however they need to.
Nimbus Data develops scalable, high-performance flash memory technology offerings targeting use cases in the cloud, AI, high-performance computing, virtualization and more. The company is the developer of the Nimbus Data AFX storage operating system, ExaFlash all-flash arrays and ExaDrive SSDs.
Nutanix is the developer of the first hyperconverged infrastructure offering that combined compute, storage and networking into an integrated stack. Its technology converges on-premises, edge and multi-cloud environments into a single cloud platform and helps eliminate storage silos with unified file and object storage that non-disruptively scales.
OpenDrives specializes in high-performance, enterprisegrade NAS technology targeting performance-hungry applications like video production and health care. It offers the Ultimate Series optimized with NVMe for performance and throughput, the Optimum Series that combines NVMe flash with hard drive capacity, and the Momentum Series with hard-drive capacity.
Panasas develops storage technology with a focus on high-performance computing and AI. Its PanFS with Dynamic Data Acceleration file system brings predictable performance to environments with small files and mixed workloads. Panasas offers ActiveStor Ultra for high-performance computing and ActiveStor Prime, a parallel scale-out NAS offering.
Executive Chairwoman, CEO
Panzura’s global cloud file system helps employees across hundreds of offices work as if they are in the same room. The Panzura CloudFS powers enterprise-scale deployments in the cloud with global scalability and military-grade security. Data is stored as a single data source in the cloud while frequently used files are cached on edge appliances.
Pavilion Data Systems
Pavilion is the developer of the Pavilion HyperParallel Flash Array based on its HyperOS storage operating system. It runs on industry- standard hardware with up to 20 independent controllers per system, each with their own CPU, memory, network and OS instance, and capable of natively running block, file or object workloads.
Pivot3’ s hyperconverged infrastructure is purpose-built for mission-critical video surveillance and security operations to help consolidate video capture, storage, analytics and access control onto a single platform. Its Acuity hyperconverged infrastructure platform scales as needed.
Pure Storage develops all-flash storage technology, including the FlashArray block storage line and the FlashBlade unstructured storage line. It is in a major push to unify storage and ransomware protection across on- premises and cloud environments with its Pure-as-a-Service offering.
Founder, Chairman, CEO
QNAP develops NAS appliances and video surveillance for home, small-business and enterprise users, and more recently has branched into cloud-based NAS. In 2020 it launched the ZFS-based QuTS hero operating system, the QuWAN SDWAN offering and the QuTS cloud NAS that can be deployed on public and private clouds.
Quantum is now one of the leading providers of storage technology to such verticals as media and entertainment, surveillance and industrial IoT. The company’s StorNext file systems provide high-performance file and block storage, while its ActiveScale offering is at the base of Quantum’s object storage repositories.
Qumulo simplifies unstructured file data management for high-performance workloads at exabyte scale. It is a leader in distributed file systems, object storage and hybrid cloud file storage. Its software runs on standard hardware from Qumulo or from partners HPE and Fujitsu, as well as in AWS and Google Cloud Platform public clouds.
Scale Computing’s HC3 IT infrastructure platform provides a fully integrated platform that helps eliminate the need for traditional IT silos of virtualization software, disaster recovery software, servers and shared storage. The HC3 selfhealing platform identifies, mitigates and corrects infrastructure problems in real time.
Scality provides web-scale storage in three ways. Scality Ring is software-defined native file and object storage for large-scale on-premises management of unstructured data. Zenko provides data management across multiple clouds. And NAS Archiver tiers inactive data from NAS to Scality Ring.
Kaminario, the former all-flash storage array developer that exited the hardware busines to focus on software-defined storage, last year changed its name to Silk. The Silk Platform provides flexible, on-demand scalability and dynamic provisioning for on-premises and cloud workloads targeting mission-critical applications.
SoftIron develops storage appliances for private and public cloud and enterprise-scale facilities using the Ceph open-source software-defined storage platform designed for highly scalable and unified object, block and file storage. The appliances cater to high-bandwidth, medium-latency applications such as content delivery.
CEO, CTO, Chief Architect
StarWind develops hyperconvergence and storage virtualization software and an all-flash hyper-converged infrastructure appliance combining network, storage, compute and software. It offers StarWind Virtual SAN for building virtualized storage pools and StarWind Virtual Tape Library to convert inexpensive disk drives into virtual tapes.
StorCentric has acquired Vexata’s all-flash storage; Nexsan’s Unity high-performance block and file storage, E-series and Beast high-density block storage, and Assureon compliant archiving technologies; Drobo prosumer and SMB storage; Retrospect on-premises and cloud storage; and Violin Systems’ NVMe all-ﬂ ash storage.
StorOne develops software-defined storage technology for all-flash or hybrid arrays; virtual, secondary and cloud storage or hybrid on-premises and cloud storage. They all support block, file and object storage using NVMe, Optane and SSD. In 2020 it unveiled a new all-ﬂ ash array that combines Intel Optane SSDs and Intel QLC 3-D NAND storage tiers.
Storpool develops block-level, distributed storage software aimed at replacing traditional SANs, all-flash storage arrays or other less-efficient storage software when building public or private clouds. It is available as a fully managed offering with pay-as-you-grow pricing and integrates with Kubernetes, OpenStack, CloudStack and more.
Synology develops NAS, networking and surveillance technology. Its rackmount and desktop NAS models target home users to SMBs to enterprises, all managed by its DiskStation Manager web-based operating system. The company also develops software targeting data protection, cloud and file sync and share.
Vast Data is focused on helping customers develop all-flash data center infrastructures with its own software sitting on top of new hardware and network technologies. Its Universal Storage technology combines exabyte scalability with multitenant quality-of-service tools to help consolidate all data and applications onto one scale-out ﬂ ash tier.
Interim CEO, CFO
VMware cloud management and virtualization technology is at the heart of cloud infrastructures worldwide. The same can be said for its vSAN software-defined storage, a key component of the VMware Cloud Foundation cloud infrastructure and management service for private and public clouds, and its VxRail hyperconverged infrastructure technology.
WekaIO develops what it terms the Limitless data platform based on its WekaFS file system for applications that leverage cloud, GPU-based compute and flash storage. The software-defined WekaFS mixes ﬂ ash and spinning disk to run block, file and object storage on-premises and natively in the cloud, with automatic orchestration between the two.
Zadara develops software-defined storage technology to provide storage as a service. The Zadara Cloud Services platform combines compute, storage and networking to any customer workload and data type whether on-premises, in hybrid cloud or multi-cloud infrastructures, or at the edge.