The modern data center is a complex environment with many different systems and many different objectives. The data center exists to provide an organization with the networking, storage, processing and connectivity features needed to operate in the fast paced, data-driven world we live in today.
Over the years, many data centers have become the dumping ground for all things technology. Systems and applications were continuously added to the data center to the point where many data centers were completely full with no room for add new hardware to support growing needs for processing, storage and network capabilities.
Many organizations have been undergoing data center consolidation projects in recent years. These consolidation projects have resulted in data centers being closed down and services and platforms being moved into other data centers within the organization. As expected, these projects have added to already overburdened data centers but virtualization has again provided real value to the business and the data center by allowing many physical servers to be combined into a virtualized environment.
The use of virtualized environments has led many organizations to look for other ways to use virtualization within their data centers. That search has led many companies to research and implement Software Defined Data Centers (SDDC) as a way to replace or augment their existing data center infrastructure. With SDDC, it is possible for companies to replace their data center’s infrastructure with a virtualized environment and then deliver services and software as a service.
There’s some obvious benefits found with a software defined approach to the data center. Organizations can remove underutilized servers, replace aging networking and storage systems and improve / increase security. SDDC allows organizations to replace aging systems with new systems which may be easier to manage and maintain.
There are other benefits to SDDC that may not be that obvious. A few of these benefits include more flexibility within the data center, closer integration with cloud systems and vendors and easier change management when changes are needed within the data center. Having the ability to define the entire data center infrastructure allows to companies to move their data center systems and technologies at the speed of business. When new services are required by the business, the IT group can quickly make the necessary changes within the data center to provide that new service or offering.
Another benefit of SDDC is that it allows companies to spend less on hardware for the data center. Of course, hardware will still be needed for SDDC but the hardware won’t be the infrastructure itself. Hardware will simply be the delivery system for the software defined data center. With SDDC, hardware is simply a commodity that can be swapped in and out as needed. Using commodity hardware for all aspects of the data center allows companies to save a great deal of money within the data center.
When I speak with clients about the software defined data center, the one benefit that the majority of people tend to really latch onto is the ability of SDDC to bring agility to the data center. A few weeks ago, I wrote a post titled The Agile Data Center that touches on the subject of the agility in the data center. In that post, I wrote:
“Agility doesn’t necessarily mean new systems nor does it mean moving your data center to the cloud. It does mean thinking about your data center and your data center capabilities in new ways and then putting in new processes (and perhaps, new systems) to make the data center flexible and agile.”
As I wrote, converting the data center from inflexible and overburdened to agile and able to grow requires new thinking. That new thinking can come from the software defined data center approach. Not only does SDDC allow an organization to rethink the data center but it also allows the data center to become an agile platform for the company to use to design and build agile services for internal and external consumption.
SDDC isn’t the answer to every data center problem, but it is an approach that can be used to bring agility to the data center.