Software-defined storage goes mainstream with new Hedvig release

By Avinash Lakshman | | Hedvig

Today we announced the availability of the Hedvig Distributed Storage Platform v3.0. Like many technology providers, we have agile product development and release a consistent train of new features. Once a year we roll out a major release focusing on key innovations that further advance modern storage for the enterprise.

In the last six months we’ve seen a fairly dramatic shift in buyers in the software-defined storage (SDS) market. A more conservative, mainstream customer now evaluates SDS technologies. In particular, we’ve seen a lot of interest from financial services, government, healthcare, and manufacturing. I’m very encouraged by this interest. These mainstream enterprises are a sign of technology maturity and acceptance. Our first wave of customers came from early-adopter banks, service providers, and retailers; companies where technology is core to the business. Although we still see momentum from these organizations, we’re now engaging with net-new prospects that don’t typically adopt on the bleeding edge of technology.

So why are these companies suddenly so interested in SDS?

Here are the three trends we’re seeing at Hedvig and how they influence the capabilities in our 3.0 release.


Large enterprises are enamored with flash. And with good reason! The performance and economics have improved to the point where most organizations can default to an all-flash data center. What does that mean? All tiers of storage in today’s modern data center can be powered by some form of flash.

Obviously, enterprises aren’t there today. This will happen as technology refreshes. And one could argue — like with mainframes — spinning disks will never truly go away. Strategically, though, customers want to move to all-flash architectures. Like with virtualization, we expect to see a “flash first” policy. New purchases are expected to be flash based, and the case can be made for non-flash based on the application, use case, or business needs.

Technologically, this trend is propelled by advances in PCIe, NVMe, and 3D Xpointflash. It’s not uncommon to see these flash technologies mixed into the same server with more “pedestrian” SATA and SAS flash options. In fact, in a recent conversation with Howard Marks, he coined this all-flash hybrid systems. The idea is you can tier data in out of different levels of flash. For example, from memory to NVMe to SATA.

Regardless of the exact mix or use case, we see enterprises are eager to adopt all-flash and are looking for the economics of software-defined storage to unleash that flash hardware.


Early adopters of SDS focus on scalability, usability, and total cost of ownership (TCO) when evaluating the technology. Makes sense, as those are common criteria for any emerging technology. That’s not to say other features aren’t important, but these top the list in our experience.

However, recently, we’ve seen enterprises focusing on security, access control, and auditing capabilities. Usually these are from heavily regulated organizations where they face strict regulatory or internal IT compliance requirements. How do you protect data in-flight and at-rest? How do I limit access within your platform? How do you comply with <insert your favorite> regulation? These are now as common as standard evaluation criteria like scalability, usability, and TCO.


Hyperconverged is also taking enterprise IT by storm. Customers are really voting for simplicity and an easy, scalable way to grow infrastructure. But hyperconverged is not the only way to solve this problem and we’ve written extensively on hyperconverged vs hyperscale approaches.

Instead, we see a trend towards rack-scale converged infrastructure. The distinction is that it’s not all elements are (hyper)converged into a single platform. Server, virtualization, networking, and storage components are all distinct and disaggregated, but still tied together as a fully pre-tested, integrated solution. Think more VCE vBlock and less Nutanix. But unlike vBlock, everything is software-defined and runs on industry standard x86 (perhaps ARM one day) servers.

We’ve observed that large, mainstream enterprises have a diversity of workloads where hyperconverged is not always the right fit. More dynamic applications, DevOps environments, and situations where data is growing more than 10% year-over-year favor a rack-scale converged infrastructure approach. Proof in point, our bundled solution with HPE, fits this mold and we’re already seeing 50% of our pipeline is for this joint solution. You can read more about in an Scott Sinclair’s ESG whitepaper that analyzes Hedvig running on Apollo 4200 servers.


It’s with these trends in mind that we set to work on a series of new and improved capabilities for the third major release of our software-defined storage platform. The capabilities fall into three buckets:

  • Optimized multi-cloud flash. New FlashFabric scales flash in all dimensions across private, public cloud. Customers defaulting to the all-flash data center can leverage the latest PCIe, NVMe, and 3D Xpoint technologies by simply incorporating new nodes or cloud computing instances as they become available.
    Why it matters: FlashFabric significantly lowers the cost and complexity of all-flash architectures.
  • New security capabilities. Encrypt360 adds in-software encryption. Our unique approach encrypts data at the host using our Storage Proxy. The ensures that data is encrypted throughout its entire lifecycle, whether it’s in-use, in-flight, or at-rest. We’ve added new audit logging and access controls to complement encryption, providing enterprises with more fine-grained policies that can be set on a per-volume basis.
    Why it matters: Encrypt360 and new security capabilities help reduce hacking and ransomware risks.
  • Integrations for Continued SDS ease-of-use. We’re introducing new and improved CloudScale Plugins. Our new NetBackup OST plugin provides scalability and efficiency advantages for Veritas customers. We’ve added additional VM backup features to our vSphere Web Client plugin, which recently achieved VMware-ready storage certification. And customers of RHEL and Red Hat OpenShift can now get a certified container of Hedvig software.
    Why it matters: CloudScale Plugins simplify integration of SDS into rack-scale converged infrastructures.

Now has never been a better time to get started with software-defined storage. I encourage you to check out our 3.0 Feature Brief and register for our upcoming webinar. Hedvig’s Eric Carter will provide a live overview of the features on September 7th at 10:00 am PT.