The State of the Software Defined Data Center

Nov 9, 2016 4:00:26 PM

Of course, I always encourage practitioners to carefully study the full EMA research report on the “Obstacles and Priorities on the Journey to the Software-Defined Data Center” or at least read the research study summary or at the very least join the EMA SDDC Research webinar on February 18, but I still want to briefly summarize the key findings here.

First of all, it is important to mention the incredible excitement that Jim (Jim Frey is EMA VP for Network Management) and I came across when discussing this topic with practitioners. As expected, IT Pros do not share one homogeneous definition of the SDDC, but we did identify a set of core priorities that everyone was burning to address in 2014:

1. Centralized management of servers, network and storage

2. Best-practice, repeatable configurations of application environments

3. Orchestration and automation for easy cross silo application deployment

At the end of the day, the SDDC is all about managing server, network and compute infrastructure –internal and within the public cloud- through a central set of management software. The SDDC introduces an additional layer of abstraction –right above the private and public cloud- that enables the policy-driven provisioning of application environments and ultimately “empowers” applications to define their own environments, based on performance, security, availability and further policy requirements.

“In a truly Software Defined Data Center, infrastructure is defined through centralized management software and by enterprise applications.”

In short, the concept of the SDDC is regarded as the “golden path” to coping with today’s exploding hunger for IT services. When asked for the key technologies organizations will invest in this year (2014), practitioners made it very clear that each of their investments is directly aimed at better serving business needs, without having the luxury of drastically increasing their data center OPEX and CAPEX:

Key Areas of Enterprise IT Investments in 2014

1. Capacity management: Seemingly an old and boring discipline, capacity management is staging a comeback in 2014. Really, we shouldn’t call it “comeback”, but “metamorphosis” from the ugly duckling, conducted by a small number of data center gearheads, to a truly critical data center discipline that constitutes an essential part of every infrastructure and application management planning, deployment and management decision. Within the massively heterogeneous environment of the SDDC, capacity management has to truly “understand” the specific requirements of each individual application workload. Therefore, I’m happy to declare 2014 the year of truly dynamic and application-aware capacity management.

2. Multi virtualization and/or cloud management platform: In today’s data centers, we see more and more different hypervisor technologies  for servers, storage and networking. At the same time, organizations have begun to more aggressively adopt external cloud resources. This availability of a “quick fix” leads to rapidly increasing infrastructure complexity, making SLA management, security and application performance assurance more difficult to achieve.

3. Configuration Management: Configuration management is the third key investment area in 2014. This goes very much in line with today’s hunger for rapid and consistent application deployment. Configuration management software helps bridging the traditional gap between developers and IT Operations (DevOps), encapsulating application deployment, management and troubleshooting instructions within the application code.

For a true deep dive into the SDDC topic, with all of its bottlenecks, challenges, opportunities, business drivers, risks and other key considerations, please download the full report from our website.

Last but not least, I would like to thank all of our sponsors that made this report possible in the first place.

ASG, IBM, CSC ServiceMesh, Puppet Labs, Atlantis Computing, VMTurbo, Citrix, QualiSystems, Hewlett Packard, Convirture, EMC


Torsten Volk

Written by Torsten Volk

With over 15 years of enterprise IT experience, including a two-and-a-half-year stint leading ASG Technologies' cloud business unit, Torsten returns to EMA to help end users and vendors leverage the opportunities presented by today's hybrid cloud and software-defined infrastructure environments in combination with advanced machine learning. Torsten specializes in topics that lead the way from hybrid cloud and the software-defined data center (SDDC) toward a business-defined concept of enterprise IT. Torsten spearheads research projects on hybrid cloud and machine learning combined with an application- and service-centric approach to hyperconverged infrastructure, capacity planning, intelligent workload placement, public cloud, open source frameworks, containers and hyperscale computing.

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