The scalability, flexibility and ease of management of the software defined data centre is making it a real must-have for enterprises. While the uptake of the SDDC is still in its infancy in the
Software defined data centre (SDDC) refers to the phenomenon of abstracting the underlying network hardware from the network infrastructure software that runs on top of it.
At the heart of this transformation is a shift to software-based management and definition of IT services (the software defined data centre) and a decoupling from the hardware underneath for services such as compute, networking and storage.
"The goal is agility and speed within enterprise data centres by enabling applications to be quickly and transparently provisioned, moved and scaled as business requirements require," explains
Traditional data centres can present numerous hurdles to the enterprise such as a lack of essential scalability and flexibility and are often difficult and clumsy to manage.
"The difficulty of scaling traditional data centres and the lack of flexibility results in a cost model that has a massive impact in both Opex and
According to virtualisation expert
"In the past, each new application required a dedicated server, which could take up to 10 weeks to deploy. Today, server virtualisation allows a virtual machine to be provisioned within minutes. However, the other resources needed by the application, storage, network, security are physical, not virtual, so they take much longer to deploy, on the order of a week or more. Worse, provisioning these physical resources consumes a great deal of IT time, which would be better spent on strategic initiatives. In a very real sense, the full potential of server virtualisation cannot be realised when other resources are physical," says
One of the benefits of the SDDC is that all resources are virtualised so can be automatically deployed, with little or no human involvement. Applications can be operational in minutes, shortening time to value and dramatically reducing IT staff time spent on application provisioning and deployment.
"Components of the SDDC can be implemented together, or in phases. Compute virtualisation, network virtualisation and software-defined storage, for example, deliver abstraction, pooling and automation of the compute, network, and storage infrastructure services. Automated management, meanwhile, delivers a framework for policy-based management of data centre application and services," states Tayan.
The software-defined data centre is characterised by a full virtualisation stack. Network, computing, and storage resources are made available as abstract services to applications, and are decoupled from hosting hardware. This enables moving at a faster pace from the business problem down through the infrastructure to achieve the business results required.
The next step for enterprise
Strategically, IT leaders have always sought new processes and technologies that would help IT bring new value to their respective business and put them on equal footing with other departments within the company. The whole philosophy of being able to deliver IT as a service stems from this mindset and has led to great changes within the IT organisation, such as reducing the time to deliver an application or server, as well as greater operational efficiencies, according to Silver Peak.
"However, these changes are often constrained because of the static nature of the underlying networking infrastructure. So, for example, while delivering an application within the same host it may take minutes, hours or, on a different subnet, it could take days. Furthermore, if new security policies or performance considerations need to be instantiated, months could be required," explains
"SDDC changes everything. Shifting the entire application stack into software, solution delivery can be made radically simpler and faster. SDDC allows IT to deliver applications in minutes not months, regardless of their performance and security requirements. This means IT becomes more agile and efficient, but perhaps more importantly, SDDC means IT has a larger role to play in the boardroom."
"The advantages of the SDDC explain the global interest in SDDC market. In fact, a recent study published in
According to IDC Predictions for 2013 published in
"It's understandable that it's taking time for SDDC to take off completely; however, what is clear is that a software-based data centre is the future and the next step for enterprises to evolve into the anytime, anywhere world that is increasingly being demanded," states Greenfield.
"By having access to network topology information, applications can optimise decisions related to service fulfilment, service placement, and service removal. The network has the intelligence to provide guidance to a key set of applications through abstraction, including peer-to-peer, content distribution, and data centre applications. In all these cases, aligning the applications with the resources is important, as peers need to sync up with the best cloud application or best Content Delivery Network server," says Ismair.
By hiding physical infrastructure complexity and providing transport layer visibility for applications and services, it helps make network behaviour more provable and network management simpler, and brings virtualisation to the network, thereby centralising network operation and management and enabling rapid application development through the increased network intelligence and an open environment. This makes new monetisation streams are possible through flexible business models, and capacity constraints can be cost-effectively resolved through optimised flow control, says Brocade.
According to Silver Peak, with the SDDC, IT will be able to commoditise expert solutions so that application owners and virtualisation administrators can solve problems themselves that previously required the networking team.
SDDC uptake in
To have an idea of the overall data centre market in the
"Based on my conversations with IT managers, I think we're still very early on in the learning phase of a technology adoption. Over the next 18 to 24 months, we will start to see limited trials and some early adopters in the US with the next tier of adoption happening within 24 months from now. The same curve will apply to the
Enterprises in the
"Educating enterprises on SDDC and the business benefits it can deliver is a primary objective of ours. There are some early adopters of the SDDC within the region, which have moved beyond the evaluation stage to start planning and even implementation, which is encouraging to see," says Tayan.
Expert opinion... some of the benefits of the SDDC
Ignore the hype surrounding SSDs and approach the project with a view fixed firmly on measureable benefits that deliver real RoI.
Rapid provisioning of infrastructure
Increased automation of IT
Higher utilisation of infrastructure
Possibly lower TCO due to operational automation and lower
Top questions to... consider before deploying a SDDC
How viable is this technology?
What is the underlying financial model? Where will I find significant savings?
What should my migration plan include?
Which IT processes will have to change?
What is the optimum IT organisational structure for the SDDC?
What KPIs give the best indication of SDDC operation and health?
What is the impact of a SDDC on security and compliance?
How does a SDDC change my business continuity/disaster recovery plans?
How does the SDDC impact our capacity planning?
Top tips for... initiating deployment of SDDC:
Begin to build institutional knowledge around SDDC: Organisations may find compelling use cases for SDDC in lab and training environments as a way to both reduce storage costs and build on further institutional knowledge.
Standardise as much as possible: Reduced complexity improves speed, agility and availability. Worry less about lock-in and more about ways to accelerate orchestration and automation of IT tasks.
Infrastructure silos are merging: This will be accentuated by the emergence of programmable network and storage provisioning capabilities exposed through SDS and SDN. Back-end network and storage expertise will remain a requirement, but that expertise will transform to assisting in programmatic provisioning, deprovisioning and monitoring capabilities and technical integration.
Let the use case decide if an SDN investment is necessary: It's tempting to find a use case for SDN to simply get exposed to it, but organisations that do not need high degrees of network settings portability between multiple sites can wait.
Take a conservative approach to software-defined storage: The outcome and business value of SDS is: improving agility and QoS while optimising cost containment. Vendors are developing road maps, and a few are offering products that provide value to select IT organisations.
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