Remember the reality presented in the movie “The Matrix”? While the population lived in a fantasy world, they were actually being used as an energy source. A small group of revolutionaries led by Neo would fight the powers that be to free the human race. The world as the machines and Agents knew it was changing, and the controlling powers faced a new reality. And they were nervous.

The world inside the data center has been changing too, and it is changing fast. The large, status quo storage companies are just as nervous. This group of large legacy system companies has ruled the data center for the past 40 years. They’re the ones selling all that pricey systems hardware—especially in storage found in every organization. They are pushing their brand of reality, and when those companies came knocking, you paid, even as you felt something was not right.

But the times, says Dylan, they are a-changin’.

(Related: Have we been looking at databases wrong this whole time?)

After four decades of legacy systems vendors selling massively expensive storage systems (we call them “MESS,” for obvious reasons), and customers reluctantly paying high prices for what Sage Weil called “commodity components wrapped in branded tin,” there is new excitement in the data center: the promise of lower costs and freedom from the tight grips of the storage Agents.

Relief comes in the form of open-source-driven software-defined data storage (OpenSDS). OpenSDS is a radically new approach that builds on innovations such as cloud storage, virtualization, open-source software, hybrid or all flash systems via a combination of hard disk drives (HDDs) and solid state drives (SSDs), and other storage-related developments.

OpenSDS includes one feature that is critical to software-defined storage (SDS), but which few vendors have embraced: open-source software that is developed and improved by large communities of researchers and developers. As Weil suggests, “The true potential of software-defined anything isn’t unlocked unless the software is also open source.” Sage advice indeed.