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Changing the way enterprises migrate and deploy cloud-based applications

The data centre can be fully virtualized; the future of software defined data centres is coming faster than you think. By Patrick Kerpan, CEO / CTO of CohesiveFT.

 

Date: 6 Mar 2013

Lately, companies such as VMware and now HP have been fond of the new term “software defined data centre” (or SDDC). What’s the difference between this and the hardware at the office? At its core, a software defined data centre frees the application layer from hardware layer. Eric Knorr writes about what a huge leap it is, “just as the world changed when isolated networks became the Internet, computing is about to make a quantum leap to “data centres” abstracted from hardware that may reside in multiple physical locations.”

CohesiveFT agrees with the significance of the potential impact, but would add, not only would the data centres reside in multiple physical locations - but also at multiple service providers - with the application for the most part unconcerned with its location (as opposed to the application owner who will of course care about “jurisdictional physicality”).

In VMware’s words, “The Software-Defined Data centre is a unified data centre platform that will help you transform the way you deliver IT with unprecedented automation, flexibility, and efficiency.” A software defined data centre is built for the cloud and geared toward modern applications. These two features should appeal to businesses because enterprises can clearly see the benefits of outsourced IT features, either as the SaaS applications they use or the IaaS computing based in the cloud.

However, that “unified data centre platform” has an awful lot of hardware in it. Sort of the beginning of a 12-step program for people who want to be virtual - but only if it involves a lot of expensive physical infrastructure below it.

Defined in software
Yet, we at CohesiveFT believe software defined data centre means exactly that - defined in software. The deployment and management of applications and the virtualized compute, storage, and networks they are comprised of should exist only as software. Let someone else own the hardware, the guards, the guns, the glass, the gas, the batteries, the generators, and the hundreds of people who service them. In the world of enterprise IT - we would even advise considering infrastructure IT and application IT - and to the extreme, never the two shall meet, except for in the form of APIs and the contractual relationships engendered in their use.

The good news for most organizations is such dramatic action doesn’t need to be pursued. The ubiquity of APIs, automation, Internet, and fast, flat, and fat physical resources means software defined data centre can be pursued and deliver ROI one application at a time, not one physical data centre plant at a time.

No one is migrating whole data centres, but apps for proof of concept and specific projects
We don’t see anyone migrating data centres to the cloud, we see them migrating applications to the cloud; where an application is the 5, 10, or 50 computer servers that collectively perform a business function. Using the application as the target allowsIT teams to get ROI almost upon deployment of their first cloud migration.

Our concept of software defined data centre can be much finer grained, more targeted, more agile and is possible to deliver without a monolithic approach involving your existing physical assets and infrastructure. We call our software defined data centres “cloud containers.”
For CohesiveFT, software defined data centres allow for the “containerization” of a businesses’ systems of record and systems of engagement within the context of strong integration, governance, and security. A cloud container, allows enterprises to use the virtualization principles of pooling, abstraction and automation in a cloud-ready format that works “out of the box.”

Data centre limitations become a thing of
the past
Previous limitations to software defined data centre included physical constraints and a lack of application-layer focus. Enterprises have been wary of sending apps to the cloud without the proper context for integration, governance and security. Cloud computing brings benefits of cost savings, efficiency, and more raw computing power. Cloud containers go further by letting IT teams migrate, deploy and control applications in the cloud, with the desired context and ultimately evolve those applications with the cloud as an innovation platform. The software defined data centre container concept is one we at CohesiveFT like to promote the most. We’ve used the Cloud Container Solution to describe not only our core products and services, but also the interoperability with partners and enterprise images. The integration and agility the container offers application users unleashes the best, most promising features of the cloud.

The future of software defined data centre: enterprise needs for access, control and visibility
Software defined data centre is not yet another vendor-backed jargon term, but can be a proper solution for cloud customization and integration. Beth Pariseau predicts that vendors are leading the push for the adoption of software defined data centres, both from the networking side and the server side. Vmware created and promotes their vCloud Suite, while Microsoft ships Windows Server with Hype-V, and Red Hat scales network-attached storage with Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization (RHEV). We are also keeping an eye on Juniper and Brocade as they will likely enter the fray. Enterprises can use the growing number of virtualized servers, virtualized networks and APIs to expand their data centres beyond the physical walls. VMware’s concept of software defined data centre is too narrow, merely a virtualized connection to the same monolithic, physical room of servers. The true software defined data centre of the future will be a federated, cross-cloud connection that includes cloud-deployed data centres, the existing data centres and every virtualized thing in between. Now, in order to make a software defined data centre a reality for enterprises, there are certain features that must be met.
The coming years will see a growth in both vendors insisting they are, in fact “software defined data centres” while enterprises must sort through the noise to see the value of containerized cloud migrations and deployments.

A true software defined data centre will be:
£ Standardized
£ Holistic
£ Adaptive
£ Automated
£ Resilient

A true example of software defined data centre will have features of network virtualization, image automation, topology automation and file system virtualization. These features are key to both virtualizing and configuring data centres - by automating, customizing, and taking control of the application-focused features, enterprises can securely make the transition into the cloud. Enterprises will be able to use software defined data centres to innovate with more resource utilization, resiliency, cost savings on a unified platform for all applications.

We urge industry leaders to think of software defined data centres in the broadest terms possible. This differing take on how to identify the parameters of SDDC capture the wide scope of features that truly identify the capabilities that make a software defined data centre revolutionary.
 

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