Now that technology has evolved to the point where all three pillars of data center hardware infrastructure – servers, storage and networking – can be implemented in software, the enterprise is eager to build a fully abstracted end-to-end data environment.
This software defined data center (SDDC) presents a number of opportunities for improved flexibility and scalability, as well as vastly streamlined hardware footprints and management stacks. But according to VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger, the most important aspect of the SDDC is its ability to support a “liquid business,” in which infrastructure and architecture finally shed the rigid, silo-based structures of the past to provide more dynamic service to an increasingly tech-savvy consumer base.
In a recent interview with CIO, Gelsinger noted that software is inherently more flexible and faster than hardware, so creating digital assets in software improves their value to the enterprise compared to the traditional hardware model. And in an ironic twist, this liberation of infrastructure not only improves application and service functionality, it actually protects the enterprise’s legacy hardware investment by extending component lifecycles and providing for a less disruptive replacement and upgrade process.
The SDDC, in fact, is crucial to the hybrid cloud strategies under development at most enterprises. Gelsinger goes so far as to call the SDDC the “architectural foundation” of the hybrid cloud because it provides the means to provision and run applications seamlessly across on-premises and distributed, third-party infrastructure. Under the SDDC model, IT teams can not only extend their reach into scale-out cloud architectures, but they can do so using the same tools, security platforms and networking protocols that they’ve been using all along.
All of this allows business processes, and even the models they support, to become very fluid in terms of their ability to move, grow and adapt to a changing economy. In a world where applications will soon be communicating with each other and intelligently altering their own functions to meet consumer demands, infrastructure that can’t provide the necessary support in a highly dynamic fashion will hinder the enterprise’s ability to capitalize on new markets and new revenue streams. In the digital future, these opportunities will rise and fall with split-second timing, so fluidity of data and services is crucial.
Building the SDDC, however, will require careful coordination between virtualized infrastructure elements and overriding management systems. Automation is a key enabler in this effort, but it will also require the ability to seamlessly push workloads across abstract server, storage and network resources on multiple clouds, plus the means to coordinate this activity with emerging mobile platforms, collaborative services and other facets of the next-generation digital work environment.
Few enterprises have the in-house knowledge to complete this transition on their own, of course, which is why a strong partner who is well-versed in the intricacies of SDDC development is essential. A comprehensive strategy should start with validated systems-level designs and architectures that support key business processes from Day 1 of operation.
Time is of the essence; the digital economy is evolving at a rapid clip. The only way to maintain a competitive edge is to implement a liquid business model that can keep pace with a rapidly changing world.
Director of Cloud Services
Key Information Systems, Inc.