Software defined Infrastructure is the extension of the virtualization journey most enterprises have embarked upon in recent years. Many large corporations have virtualized a range of 30% to 80% of their applications that reside on their x.86 server platforms.
This stage has been relatively successful, however, almost all implementations of Virtual Machines have been layered on traditional physical or vertical infrastructure. Storage, Security and Network resources are allocated in the same way compute used to be, ie/ built to the maximum usage requirement possible, rather than for the capacity actually used.
The Software Defined Infrastructure, or Software Defined Data Center is all about taking this next stage in the journey to finally delivery application aware infrastructure that allocates resources based on real time needs at significantly lower costs with increased efficiency.
Three Stages Of The Journey
Stage One in this is evolutionary journey has produced significant savings from the Capital Expenditure (CAPEX) of Server equipment and the Operating Expense (OPEX) of maintaining, providing expensive real estate, supplying power and cooling and operating a much smaller footprint of servers in these companies Data Centers than was previously possible.
The challenges that companies now face is that the ability to save costs through virtualizing the server is now limited to the remaining land grab of additional physical machines to virtualize.
Stage Two is the Software Defined Infrastructure Model, this has been widely accepted as the Software Defined Data Center (SDDC) solution by the IT Vendors.
The aim is readiness for Cloud based solutions and technologies that provide agility, scale and cost efficiency for the enterprise.
This means taking the pooling of servers, the abstraction of the application from the Server, the automation of the capacity management and monitoring of the server workloads to the rest of the infrastructure stack in the Data Center and across the enterprise.
The next phase of virtualization is to provide virtual pooling of storage, security and network requirements of the Virtual Machines running the enterprise applications.
Stage two provides enhanced virtualization economics across the data center, the new savings will come from reduced CAPEX and OPEX on tier 1 storage and from additional network resources and firewalls, etc.
In stage one, enterprises placed virtual machines on top of expensive tier 1 storage, usually dedicated platforms achieving in many cases, only 5% to 10% utilization of this expensive storage asset.
Vendors such as NetApp, EMC, IBM, HP, etc. face similar challenges faced by the Server vendors 10 years ago, where they at first resisted virtualization until they realized the inevitable change would mean they either participate or get left behind.
VMware’s acquisition of Nicira, Cisco’s launch in November 2013 of their Hardware Defined Data Center strategy add further credibility to the fact that the next levels of virtualization will be achieved across the remaining parts of the infrastructure stack.
Stage Three of the journey is the promise of business software integration across the software defined infrastructure, basically, the concept that the application will have pre-defined rules around the assets it requires based upon importance, amount of requests for access, time of day, peak periods, etc.
Tomorrow’s orchestration platform from VMware or that promised by OpenStack will provide for automatic resource management, capacity planning in near real time, and allocation of proactive networks, firewalling, etc. This will mean being able to assign workload capacity based on the availability in the data center or spare resources available in other parts of the enterprise or to allow for burst into the cloud solutions from hosting partners.