Can software-defined data centers help relieve today's congested and overtaxed data centers? That's the hope of many vendors and analysts, who see this emerging approach as a way to finally wrest control of data center operations from the historical limitations of servers, storage arrays and network equipment.
“Is a software-defined data center just existing physical assets with more virtualized aspects, or is it something revolutionary?” asks Patrick Kerpan in a recent post in Wired.
At their core, software-defined data centers are a key piece of private clouds—they abstract data center operations and functions away from underlying hardware. “The deployment and management of applications and the virtualized compute, storage and networks they are comprised of should exist only as software,”
As Kerpan puts it: “Let someone else own the hardware, the guards, 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 managing infrastructure IT and application IT as very different organization—and to the extreme, never the two shall meet, except for in the form of APIs and the contractual relationships engendered in their use.”
Many organizations are already on their way to software-defined data centers, whether they are actively pursuing it or not. The bottom line is that no one needs to attempt to move their entire data center to being software defined. The process occurs one application at a time. “Dramatic action doesn’t need to be pursued,” says Kerpan. “The ubiquity of APIs, automation, Internet, and 'fast, flat, and fat' physical resources means software-defined data center can be pursued now and deliver ROI one application at a time, not one physical data center at a time.”
The components of a software defined data center will consist of network virtualization, image automation, topology automation, and file system virtualization.
Joe McKendrick is an author, consultant, blogger and frequent INN contributor specializing in information technology.
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