The software-defined data center (SDDC) is emerging much quicker than originally anticipated, driven partly by the speed at which the technology has developed and partly by the way in which early adopters have leveraged it for competitive advantage.
But unlike IT developments of the past, the SDDC is more than just a platform to be configured and deployed, it represents a fundamental shift in how business is conducted and the way in which humans relate to the global data ecosystem.
The extent to which the enterprise will convert from traditional data infrastructure to abstract architectures is still a matter of conjecture. Knowledge Sourcing Intelligence predicts the SDDC market will top $81 billion by the end of 2021, while Allied Market Research is more bullish at $139 billion. Both estimates incorporate a range of factors, including global economic conditions, emerging regulations and key vertical differentiators that make software-defined infrastructure more urgent in some industries than others. Virtually everyone agrees, however, that the SDDC is a key component of the broader digital transformation that is propelling businesses of all sizes to augment, if not replace, traditional product-oriented revenue streams with applications and services.
It is also clear that the SDDC will be less expensive and less complex than today’s physical and virtual architectures, says BizTech’s Phil Goldstein. As organizations like agricultural cooperative Land O’Lakes have demonstrated with VMware’s vRealize platform, benefits range from improved operational efficiencies to better quality control and even more streamlined compliance. For one thing, the system provides highly dynamic scalability to allow workloads to more closely match resource consumption, which lowers operating costs and enables better capacity planning. As well, it offers greater visibility to support preventative maintenance and troubleshooting that limits downtime. At the same time, the company is implementing a hyperconverged infrastructure solution from SimpliVity that shrinks the hardware footprint and lessens the management burden.
Supporting today’s workflows more cheaply and easily is only half the opportunity presented by the SDDC, however. The real gains come from transitioning all data operations to a DevOps model that provides continuous support for applications and services without disrupting performance for the user. To get there, though, you’ll need to optimize your newly abstracted data environment for stateless and immutable functionality, says tech analyst Jason Bloomberg.
In this way, developers can make improvements to applications and architecture in live production environments without complex workarounds or having to take the service off-line entirely. This can only come about when the enterprise is ready to implement a software-defined state, which provides a layer of abstraction between the logical persistent layer and underlying physical infrastructure to create an inherently stateless digital environment. At the same time, this frees the network edge from the restraints of physical infrastructure, allowing the enterprise to push more services and processing support closer to users where they can provide faster turnaround and improved performance. Not all the pieces for this vision are in place just yet, but they will be by the time most organizations have laid the groundwork for basic SDDC infrastructure.
It seems, then, that there are many layers to the SDDC, so it will be difficult to determine exactly when the transition is complete. But the process has clearly begun and organizations that are late to the party stand the real risk of losing competitive advantage to those who are quick to build and leverage abstract data environments for their key business processes.
Creating the SDDC will be no walk in the park, but working in one should be a snap compared to today’s complex infrastructure.
Arthur Cole writes about infrastructure for IT Business Edge. Cole has been covering the high-tech media and computing industries for more than 20 years, having served as editor of TV Technology, Video Technology News, Internet News and Multimedia Weekly. His contributions have appeared in Communications Today and Enterprise Networking Planet and as web content for numerous high-tech clients like TwinStrata and Carpathia. Follow Art on Twitter @acole602.