Future Software-Defined Datacenters Defined by Abstraction and Hardware Commoditization

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IT decision makers need to understand the use cases and risks associated with software-defined datacenters and the role hyperconvergence plays in an SDDC.

The emergence of agile digital business has changed the way we interact with technology and services, and defined new ways of building datacenters and converged infrastructures. The “as-a-service” concept has also been implemented in virtualized infrastructures to boost automation and flexibility without hampering performance or adding to costs.

Software-defined datacenters (SDDC) are the newest model for building, managing and operating large pools of physical resources without worrying about interoperability between hardware vendors or even hypervisors. Abstraction is key to hyperconverged infrastructures as it allows software to simplify operations and manage complex infrastructures.

Converged infrastructures (CI) allowed for computing, storage, networking and virtualization to be built into a single chassis, and hyperconverged infrastructures (HCI) builds on top of that by tightening the interaction between all these components with an extra software-defined layer. However, converged infrastructures don’t usually allow much flexibility in configuration, as the purchased hardware is usually vendor-dependent and additional components are normally managed separately.

Hyperconverged infrastructures (HCI) are built to be hardware-agnostic and focused more on building on top of converged infrastructures by adding more components, such as data deduplication, WAN optimization and inline compression. The ability to manage the entire infrastructure through a single system and common toolset enables infrastructure expansion through simple point-and-click actions and checkboxes.

Separating physical hardware from infrastructure operations means that workloads and applications can work together more tightly than in legacy or converged infrastructures. At the same time, having a storage controller that acts as a service running on a node means that directly attaching data storage to physical machines is no longer necessary -- any new storage will be part of a cluster and configured as part of a single storage pool.

While most of today’s organizations are probably not ready to adopt software-defined datacenters – and those that do probably fit into the visionary category – IT decision makers need to understand the business cases, use cases and risks associated with SDDSs. Because hyperconvergence is the actual definition of a software-defined datacenter, IT decision makers should proceed with caution when implementing it as they need to make sure that it delivers the best results for their business.

Gartner predicted that SDDCs will be the future of digital business, with 75 percent of top enterprises considering it mandatory by 2020. We’ve already seen hybrid cloud adoption increase through the integration of software and commodity datacenter hardware offered by public cloud vendors. The rise of SDDCs will probably also be fueled by the need for businesses to become more agile in terms of IT solutions that satisfy business growth and continuity.

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