Welcome!

Related Topics: SDN Journal, Java IoT, Microservices Expo, Linux Containers, Containers Expo Blog, @CloudExpo, Cloud Security, @DXWorldExpo

SDN Journal: Article

Bringing Software-Defined to the Data Center

Lower costs and increase control

"Software-defined," like any new trend that technology companies rush to attach to has suffered from marketing hype. Starting in mid-2012 with the acquisition of Nicera by VMware, most traditional infrastructure technology vendors across compute, networking, and storage have some messaging around how software-defined fits into their product strategy.

But software-defined is not a traditional concept. Since the transition from mainframe to distributed computing, corresponding with the rise in networking, most technologies in the data center have been very hardware specific. For many years, the way to get the right amount of intelligence in the right place to execute the functionality has been with specialized hardware.

Software-defined is fairly self-explanatory. The value is in the software, with one of the biggest benefits being the use of standard hardware that is a fraction of the cost of vendor-specific hardware, which has been the norm for data centers since the beginning of the 21st century. Standard hardware from servers to networking devices have so many resources available that specialized hardware no longer provides the differentiation it once did.

Freedom from hardware opens up freedom to extend SDDC outside the walls of the data center. SDDC helps organizations deliver a modern private cloud in the same model that large operators like Amazon and Rackspace use to deliver public cloud. What's more, using the right software-defined technologies enables hybrid cloud, the panacea for most enterprises. This is one of the main reasons that open source technologies, and those with very strong standards are emerging in the software-defined space.

That said, software defined has the biggest opportunity to benefit private data centers, where the majority of applications simply cannot run in the public cloud based on policy or preference. Here are some best practices when looking at how software defined can benefit your private data center architecture:

Take advantage of your already efficient procurement: Odds are your organization has a go-to vendor or reseller of servers. Whether from HP, Dell, or a white box vendor like Supermicro, the premium paid on server infrastructure is much smaller than with storage. You may even have a volume purchase agreement, making purchasing of hardware for software-defined storage even more affordable. Buying infrastructure for SDDC is no different than your channels for standard servers and networking equipment.

Insist on standards compliance to avoid future lock-in: SDDC is a real opportunity to reduce or eliminate lock-in among the technologies used in your data center. The best software-defined solutions are based on industry standards so freedom to change is retained. This is more than basic interoperability with a standard API, as that case still relies on the software vendor to keep up with changes. Avoid software-defined solutions that are vendor specific and limit your flexibility to integrate and innovate as this market continues to evolve.

Have a preference for open source technologies: Once dismissed by their proprietary competitors as immature, open source operating systems, middleware, application frameworks, and databases are now standards in the data center. The same trend will hold true for software-defined solutions. Using an open source technology does not preclude organizations from working with commercial vendors to support the success of open source in the data center architecture.

Where are the biggest opportunities to use software defined? We believe it is in storage, a solution area where very large premiums have been paid for many years, based on the perception that specialized hardware was the only way to keep data safe and available. The biggest operators have proven the opposite - they can be available to millions of concurrent users without downtime or losing data while using standard hardware and intelligent software.

The reality is data is simply growing too fast and must be retained too long, at a cost that in many cases must be as close to zero as possible. Plus, unstructured data is the fastest growing, fueled by SaaS applications and the transition to mobile devices. Any private data center today is in direct competition with the operators of large public clouds. Internal users demand the flexibility and operating costs the big operators have proven are possible, so private operators must use the same software-defined strategy to remain competitive.

"Utility Computing" was a hyped trend at the start of this century that was before its time. Some might classify SDDC in the same category, all hype. Objectively, SDDC is a natural extension of cloud, and should prove to be equally as disruptive to the data center architecture as cloud has been. Software used for compute, networking, and storage will need to be as standard as the servers you buy today in order to fit into your data center architecture of the future.

More Stories By Joe Arnold

Joe Arnold founded SwiftStack to deploy high-scale, open-source cloud storage systems using OpenStack. He managed the first public OpenStack Swift launch independent of Rackspace, and has subsequently deployed multiple large-scale cloud storage systems. He is currently building tools to deploy and manage OpenStack Swift with his firm, SwiftStack.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


Latest Stories
Business professionals no longer wonder if they'll migrate to the cloud; it's now a matter of when. The cloud environment has proved to be a major force in transitioning to an agile business model that enables quick decisions and fast implementation that solidify customer relationships. And when the cloud is combined with the power of cognitive computing, it drives innovation and transformation that achieves astounding competitive advantage.
IoT is rapidly becoming mainstream as more and more investments are made into the platforms and technology. As this movement continues to expand and gain momentum it creates a massive wall of noise that can be difficult to sift through. Unfortunately, this inevitably makes IoT less approachable for people to get started with and can hamper efforts to integrate this key technology into your own portfolio. There are so many connected products already in place today with many hundreds more on the h...
In his session at Cloud Expo, Alan Winters, U.S. Head of Business Development at MobiDev, presented a success story of an entrepreneur who has both suffered through and benefited from offshore development across multiple businesses: The smart choice, or how to select the right offshore development partner Warning signs, or how to minimize chances of making the wrong choice Collaboration, or how to establish the most effective work processes Budget control, or how to maximize project result...
"Software-defined storage is a big problem in this industry because so many people have different definitions as they see fit to use it," stated Peter McCallum, VP of Datacenter Solutions at FalconStor Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
"Our strategy is to focus on the hyperscale providers - AWS, Azure, and Google. Over the last year we saw that a lot of developers need to learn how to do their job in the cloud and we see this DevOps movement that we are catering to with our content," stated Alessandro Fasan, Head of Global Sales at Cloud Academy, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Personalization has long been the holy grail of marketing. Simply stated, communicate the most relevant offer to the right person and you will increase sales. To achieve this, you must understand the individual. Consequently, digital marketers developed many ways to gather and leverage customer information to deliver targeted experiences. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Lou Casal, Founder and Principal Consultant at Practicala, discussed how the Internet of Things (IoT) has accelerated our abilit...
Data is the fuel that drives the machine learning algorithmic engines and ultimately provides the business value. In his session at Cloud Expo, Ed Featherston, a director and senior enterprise architect at Collaborative Consulting, discussed the key considerations around quality, volume, timeliness, and pedigree that must be dealt with in order to properly fuel that engine.
In his keynote at 19th Cloud Expo, Sheng Liang, co-founder and CEO of Rancher Labs, discussed the technological advances and new business opportunities created by the rapid adoption of containers. With the success of Amazon Web Services (AWS) and various open source technologies used to build private clouds, cloud computing has become an essential component of IT strategy. However, users continue to face challenges in implementing clouds, as older technologies evolve and newer ones like Docker c...
As organizations shift towards IT-as-a-service models, the need for managing and protecting data residing across physical, virtual, and now cloud environments grows with it. Commvault can ensure protection, access and E-Discovery of your data – whether in a private cloud, a Service Provider delivered public cloud, or a hybrid cloud environment – across the heterogeneous enterprise. In his general session at 18th Cloud Expo, Randy De Meno, Chief Technologist - Windows Products and Microsoft Part...
Andi Mann, Chief Technology Advocate at Splunk, is an accomplished digital business executive with extensive global expertise as a strategist, technologist, innovator, marketer, and communicator. For over 30 years across five continents, he has built success with Fortune 500 corporations, vendors, governments, and as a leading research analyst and consultant.
"Cloud computing is certainly changing how people consume storage, how they use it, and what they use it for. It's also making people rethink how they architect their environment," stated Brad Winett, Senior Technologist for DDN Storage, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Brad Winett, Senior Technologist for DDN Storage, will present several current, end-user environments that are using object storage at scale for cloud deployments including private cloud and cloud providers. Details on the top considerations of features and functions for selecting object storage will be included. Brad will also touch on recent developments in tiering technologies that deliver single solution and an end-user view of data across files and objects...
In his keynote at 18th Cloud Expo, Andrew Keys, Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise, provided an overview of the evolution of the Internet and the Database and the future of their combination – the Blockchain. Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life settl...
No hype cycles or predictions of zillions of things here. IoT is big. You get it. You know your business and have great ideas for a business transformation strategy. What comes next? Time to make it happen. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jay Mason, Associate Partner at M&S Consulting, presented a step-by-step plan to develop your technology implementation strategy. He discussed the evaluation of communication standards and IoT messaging protocols, data analytics considerations, edge-to-cloud tec...
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Dr. Robert Cohen, an economist and senior fellow at the Economic Strategy Institute, presented the findings of a series of six detailed case studies of how large corporations are implementing IoT. The session explored how IoT has improved their economic performance, had major impacts on business models and resulted in impressive ROIs. The companies covered span manufacturing and services firms. He also explored servicification, how manufacturing firms shift from se...