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The Software Defined Era

Level 11

In the last couple of years the business is constantly asking IT departments how the public cloud can provide services that are faster, cheaper and more flexible than the in house solutions. I’m not going to argue with you if this is right or not, it is what I hear at most of my customers and in a couple of cases the answer seams to be automation. The next-gen data centers that leverage a software-defined foundation, use high levels of automation to control and coordinate the environment, enabling service delivery that will meet business requirements today and tomorrow.

For me the software-defined data center (SDDC) provides an infrastructure foundation that is highly automated for delivering IT resources at the moment they are needed. The strength of  SDDC is the idea of abstracting the hardware and enabling its functionality in software. Due to the power of hardware these days, it’s possible to use a generic platform with specialized software that enables the core functionality, whether for a network switch or a storage controller. Network, for example, were once specialized hardware appliances; today, they more and more are virtualized within the virtual with specialized software. Virtualization has revolutionized computing and allowed flexibility and speed of deployment. In the IT infrastructures of these days, virtualization enables both portability of entire virtual servers to off-premises data centers for disaster recovery and local virtual server replication for high availability. What used to require specialized hardware and complex cluster configuration can now be handled through a simple check box.

By applying the principles behind virtualization of compute to other areas such as storage, networking, firewalls and security, we can use its benefits throughout the data center. And it’s not just virtual servers: entire network configurations can be transported to distant public or private data centers to provide full architecture replication. Storage can be provisioned automatically in seconds and perfectly matched to the application that needs it. Firewalls are now part of the individual workload architecture, not of the entire data center, and this granularity against threats inside and out, yielding unprecedented security. But what does it all mean? Is the SDDC some high-tech fad or invention? If you ask me: absolutely not. The SDDC is the inevitable result of the evolution of the data center over the last decade.

I know there is a lot of marketing fluff around the datacenter, and Software Defined is one of them, but for me the SDDC is for a lot of companies the perfect fit for this time. What the future will bring, who knows where we stand in 10 years! The only thing we know is that a lot of companies are struggling with the IT infrastructure and need help in bringing the environment to the next level. SDDC is a big step forward for most (if not all) of us, and call it what you like but I’ll stick to SDDC

13 Comments
Level 13

i agree that sddc and api data centers are the future...I'm still not convinced about public cloud based services. I'm also a little sceptical on software...depending on who the developer is. Look at all the bugs, security flaws, memory and cpu bloat that are in current software packages!

MVP
MVP

The bottom line is it has to run on hardware...somewhere which still has a physical capacity limit.

Everything else is a big virtual shell game.  It may be good for spinning up DR environments or virtual labs.

The current trend of software defined everything to me opens many things to hackers, malware, virii and such.

MVP
MVP

we are exploring more and more in this area, but the deeper we get down the rabbit hole the more we see how this is going to impact our monitoring.

The drive to using software defined <x> is to allow automation, which makes automation of monitoring creation even more important.

So that when a server or service is deployed in an automated manner its ongoing monitoring is included.

Given the limitations of rural sites and their single-WAN-provider limitations (including backhoe vulnerability and WAN throughput), I remain unimpressed on their behalf towards ASP's who continue to call their solutions "The Cloud."

Those solutions may be appropriate for HA deployments in M.A.N.s or for groups that have a large amount of redundant and resilient network paths, but aren't practical where a single hit to a WAN service provider (whether power or hardware failure or backhoe fade) can bring the business's Internet service down.  This isn't a fault or flaw of the ASP's, but remains a limitation that must customers face daily.

If we want to focus solely on things to worry about in a Cloud service, how about proving your data is secure when any outside entity manages everything about its access and storage.  How will you know when your customer database is violated?  Perhaps not until the Cloud provider admits a breach occurred, or your customers' credit cards or personal data shows up where it shouldn't.  Worse, not until your company's name is front page headline news--and not in a good way.

In this case, Verify First, Then Trust.  But Continue to Verify . . .

Level 20

In the process of migrating on here to Cisco UCS with 40G fabric connects, and VMware NSX to go with our Vmware cloud.  It's definitely getting more automated... esp with upgrading the mass amount of h/w.  Hopefully SW will add support for UCS stuff and later NSX as well!  Right now i'm just looking forward to the new Cisco ASAinsight!

Our teams started going UCS around seven years ago, and MANY of our servers are now virtualized and in resilient/redundant UCS chasses.  It's meant less labor for the Network Team--no more having to configure Nexus switch ports for stand-alone servers. Which means less opportunity for human error, and also means improved uptime.

Given the amount of Citrix in place here, it's not hard to imagine an ACI / UCS environment whose configuration is nearly all automated.

All hail the SDN! Worship the mighty SDN. We Infrastructure minions bow in the almighty presence of the SDN.

SDN is the quarterback prom king who gets the gal. Infrastructure is the O-line who gets their faces smashed in the trenches. All guys! No glory. Accept it lads (and lasses) and move on. We chose our paths...

Level 21

While I agree the Software Defined level certainly stands to making things more efficient, it also does add a significant level of complexity.  More and more our clients are coming to us wanting us to manage their infrastructure so they can focus on their business and not the infrastructure.  As more business rely on technology and that technology continues to become more complicated less business are able to manage that on their own and they are turning to MSP's like us to help them out.

Level 11

I think we can agree on all things than The thing is that the same goes for the environments that are spinning in the traditional DC's at this moment. Making sure everything works for you, instead of against you, is why all of us probably shouldn't be afraid to lose our job

Level 11

Could be, but is that so much better in the traditional DC's? I can agree on a lot of your points, but still companies need to go forward, and the same things were said years ago about VMware (and hypervisors)...

Level 11

Great, tell me more I'm not saying SDDC is a mature architecture yet. And monitoring is one of those fields where a lot can still be done. Let's see if we can find a company who could help us with this issue

MVP
MVP

it depends...does the company want to support the environment or pay to have someone else  who doesn't have the "investment" in data or environment host things.  I think many think they'd rather pay to play and not have to understand or appreciate all that goes on behind the scenes.

Level 20

I'm psyched about what NSX is going to do going forward.  Virtual everything contexts that follow the VM's around with major increased reliability, availability, and security.