What is Software Defined Cloud SDC

This is how you set up a software-defined data center

The virtualization of the data center is on the advance: Software Defined Computing is being joined by Software Defined Storage and Software Defined Networking. The basic principle is quickly explained: The data transfer takes place on standard hardware and is controlled by software. This means that the IT services required by the specialist departments can finally be provided quickly and cost-effectively. Sounds good. But the virtual infrastructure also poses major tasks for the organization.

What does software defined data center mean?

The idea of ​​the Software Defined Datacenter (SDDC) is actually not that new. The virtual data center is more of the next logical step, building on technologies such as Software Defined Storage (SDS) and Software Defined Computing (SDC).

The basic principle of Software Defined X is the separation of control and data levels, the decoupling of infrastructural components from operational processes. All control functions are detached from the hardware and outsourced to a higher-level, central software solution. The hardware only fulfills the functions for processing the data, so that cost-effective standard components can be used for this. Specific requirements regarding individual applications and processes are outsourced to the central control intelligence.

The concept can be clearly explained using SDS, one of the more technologically mature Software Defined X disciplines: With SDS, the data is physically stored on standard data carriers. The control plane - a higher-level software application - in turn controls where and how the data is stored and provides the data services.

Dynamics in rigid structures

But in addition to the fact that with Software Defined X hardware costs can be reduced, companies gain flexibility above all. For example, changes no longer have to be implemented on each individual component as before, but can be carried out on the central control level with just a few clicks or even automatically. This enables companies to adapt their IT to new requirements much more quickly, which is proving to be a competitive advantage in view of the high pace of innovation in many branches of the economy.

Internal processes can also be optimized by processing inquiries from the specialist departments more quickly. With efficient IT service management, it is possible, for example, to make a server with a database and operating system available within a few hours - instead of several weeks. But not only the employees in the specialist departments benefit from the faster reaction times of their IT colleagues. Thanks to the automated control, IT itself has more time to concentrate on strategic core tasks.

Future vision or reality?

The biggest hurdle that currently prevents many IT decision-makers from expanding the idea of ​​virtualization to the entire data center is the different market maturity of the three components SDC, SDS and SDN.
While many companies achieve degrees of virtualization of up to 80 percent in their server landscapes, concepts for virtual networks are still in their infancy. There are currently some manufacturers who are hesitant to launch their first products.

The market for software-defined storage, on the other hand, is very dynamic: promising products that have been in use for several years are juxtaposed with a handful of completely new approaches. That is why many data centers are currently relying on a combination of software-controlled and classic storage solutions.

So much for the status quo in the Software Defined X market. The question is: In view of the partly still very young technologies, is it worthwhile for companies to deal with the overall SDDC concept now? The answer is a resounding yes. Because both the technical and the organizational course must be set early so that the technologies, when they are mature in one to three years, can be put into operation.

In view of the relatively long investment cycles in the data center environment, companies should start setting up virtual infrastructures as early as possible. It often takes several years for a new network structure, which forms the backbone of the entire data center, to run stably. The application software must be converted accordingly and IT administrators trained.
In short: It is important to use the time and lay the foundation now. The earlier companies embark on the path to the virtual data center, the greater their innovation lead when the technologies are widely deployed.

  1. Hans Schramm, Field Product Manager Enterprise, Dell
    "It is certainly undisputed that software plays a major role in all storage issues today, and that will continue to increase in the future."
  2. Dr. Stefan Radtke, CTO Isilon Storage Division, EMC Germany
    "The storage hardware at EMC already consists almost exclusively of commodity components. Even high-end storage systems such as EMC VMAX or scale-out NAS Islilon systems consist entirely of commodity components with a few exceptions."
  3. Robert Guzek, Senior Alliance Manager CE FTS CE ISS Market Operations, Fujitsu Technology Solutions
    "Only if the hardware itself has a certain intelligence is it able to react immediately and deliver the desired short response times. The hardware must therefore become more intelligent in the future, it must manage itself better and be more flexible be able to adapt the business processes and operational requirements. "
  4. Thomas Meier, Chief Technologist Storage, Hewlett-Packard
    "The software defined data center is already a reality at HP: The cloud management solution Cloud Service Automation, the open cloud operating system Cloud OS as well as solutions for software defined networking and software defined storage are already part of HP's portfolio for the data center of the future . "
  5. Dr. Georgios Rimikis, Senior Manager Solutions Strategy, Hitachi Data Systems
    "In the professional environment, hardware will be more than a mere commodity for the foreseeable future. That applies to 2014 and beyond."
  6. Michael Achtelik, Storage Business Leader DACH, IBM Germany
    "IBM is very much involved in the implementation of the concepts around the term Software Defined Data Center. IBM is pursuing a more comprehensive approach than SDDC and has coined the term Software Defined Environments (SDE) for this purpose."
  7. Johannes Wagmüller, Director Systems Engineering, NetApp
    "Commodity hardware may be an option for operators like Amazon AWS and Google, as they have their own development departments for integration and quality assurance. In the enterprise and SME market, where these powerful development resources are not available, the The operational security of enterprise storage systems is important. "
  8. Vincenzo Matteo, Disk Product Management Director, Oracle
    "We do not consider software defined storage to be a really advantageous concept due to the hidden costs. Because all integration, testing and maintenance tasks for the system are completely transferred to the user, the effort in these areas increases significantly, and the expenditure therefore increases at the same time."

Lay the technical foundations

One preparatory measure that companies can take now is to equip their storage and network hardware with so-called element managers. As management software, these have the appropriate automation interfaces so that they can be connected to the other components of the SDDC.

In the next step, it is advisable to identify individual services that can already be operated virtualized. In the long term, parallel operation of software-controlled and classic infrastructures will establish itself in most data centers anyway.

The distinction does not take place at the application level, but individual tasks are picked out that are available as virtual services. In the network area, such a task could be the assignment of IP addresses or the definition and management of Access Control Lists (ACL). What is still done manually in many places today can be automated based on software. A complete SDN is of course not necessary for this. Nevertheless, companies can already test individual services in virtual structures, transfer them to production operations and, over time, expand them into a holistic SDDC structure.