Making sense of the software-defined data center

 In Cloud, Data Center, Hardware, Virtualization

Software-defined data center (SDDC) is the latest buzzword in our industry. SDDC is the phrase used to refer to a data center in which all infrastructure is virtualized and delivered as a service. Management of the data center is automated by software — meaning the configuration of hardware is done through upper-level software systems. This allows new services to be turned on or off rapidly and existing services to grow and shrink as needed.

This is very different from traditional data centers in which the infrastructure is typically defined by hardware and devices that might require multiple IT administrators to configure them, which can greatly extend the time to market for these solutions.

There are three core components of the software-defined data center: network virtualization, server virtualization, and storage virtualization. There is also an overlying layer that has to support the business logic of SLAs and application performance demands of the organization.

The software-defined data center is considered by many to be the next step in the evolution of virtualization and cloud computing. What separates the software-defined data center from the cloud is its ability to support legacy enterprise applications as well as new services written with cloud in mind.

Traditional applications are not designed to leverage the full resources that are available via mega clouds. CIOs and developers are not prepared to rewrite legacy code to modernize it for the cloud. So what happens is that innovation stalls and companies struggle to take advantage of all the obvious benefits and efficiencies that cloud offers. Applications will not perform as expected if they are not designed for application-level fault tolerance and super low latency.

There are a lot of things to consider when planning for an IT infrastructure that can bridge the gap between the current model and the shifting model, yet be fluid enough to be future-proof as technology continues to follow Moore’s law, changing at an alarming pace. Storage will see continued commoditization as the focus will be on adding more and more capacity and input/output operations per second (IOPS).

Networking will go through the biggest and most obvious transformation as the propriety management layer built into networking hardware will become an impediment. The focus will shift to bigger and faster pipes from a hardware perspective, while management and traffic control will be centralized. This is what is referred to as software-defined networking.

Even though SDDC is a relatively new computing phrase, a number of vendors have announced software-defined data center products, including the VMware vCloud Suite. In fact, VMware’s CTO Dr. Steve Herrod is credited with terming the phrase software-defined data center.

Industry leaders continue to make announcements and investments to prepare for this shift to a software-defined infrastructure. This is made evident by the rapid pace of mergers and acquisitions in the industry, including VMware’s purchase of Nicira and Cisco’s recent acquisition of Meraki and Cloupia. Oracle made news a few months ago when it acquired Xsigo, and Brocade recently expanded its SDN portfolio with the purchase of Vyatta. EMC joined in the action as well with the recent purchase of Syncplicity, a provider of cloud-based file management solutions.

SHI is well-positioned to help customers make sense of all of the noise surrounding the software-defined data center. Our 23-year history as an application reseller coupled with the data center and cloud resources we built over the last few years enable us to conduct a vendor agnostic review of your current strategy and offer guidance and insight into what future investments make sense based on your unique business needs and application mix.

How well prepared is your organization to adapt to the increasingly fast changes in technology? Is your infrastructure flexible and resilient enough to keep up with demands of your end users? What are the biggest challenges to overcome? Let us know in a comment below.

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