How Software-Defined Data Center Architectures Benefit IT Professionals
The virtualization of servers, storage and networking has been underway for a while now. But it is the overlay of a business logic layer that has led to the emergence of an entirely new set of IT capabilities. This is known as the software-defined data center architecture (SDDC).
Data centers manage the servers, storage and network components that make up the infrastructure that delivers business services. In the past, this involved working directly with infrastructure components and having the personnel and management tools to orchestrate and apply resources to meet the needs of the business.
But the widespread development of virtualization technologies has transformed the IT industry. It has made it possible to abstract the underlying infrastructure entirely and to use intelligent software systems to deliver anything and everything as a service.
The ability to virtualize the management of the three core infrastructure components – servers, storage and networking – now enables IT teams to connect, aggregate and configure resource pools using only software.
The business logic layer is essentially a software that manages the software that then manages the infrastructure. It translates application needs directly into technical requirements. These requirements are then delivered via API instructions to orchestration systems in order to make the necessary configurations to the server, storage or network components.
Software-defined data centers are completely transforming traditional IT operations. They deliver several benefits to business and IT operations, which we explain below.
Business-Centric vs. Infrastructure-Centric Operations
SDDC architecture enables IT operations to manage to business needs more effectively. All aspects of configuration, monitoring and remediation are now tied to a business service rather than to the infrastructure that supports it. Software-defined data centers make it possible to ensure that services meet the capacity and parameters defined by the service level agreements (SLA) required by the business.
Efficiency and Agility of the SDDC Architecture
By automating the orchestration and provisioning of services, software-defined data center architectures remove all of the steps required to conduct manual orchestration and provisioning. This reduces the time it takes to get things done and eliminates inefficiencies and unforced errors. The ability to execute activities rapidly enables further gains in efficiency and agility. Since resource pools are centrally managed, they can be efficiently allocated to match needs as they arise, resulting in an overall smaller footprint for the infrastructure.
Service Uptime and Resilience
Software-defined data center architectures manage resource pools automatically and are extremely effective at responding to the dynamic needs of service delivery. Predefined and dynamic thresholds can easily be used to trigger automations to respond to situations where systems are approaching usage levels that might otherwise result in service degradations or outages. The net result is increased service uptime and the kind of infrastructure resilience that would otherwise not be possible in traditional data center operating models.
Of course, with improved IT operations efficiency comes overall cost savings. Automation of the configuration, monitoring and remediation of services saves costly man-hours, which might otherwise be farmed out. Software-defined data center architectures can also significantly reduce energy usage. For example, they can automatically decrease power levels or turn off data center hardware when not in use, and restore it when needed. Since resource pools are more efficiently managed, it is possible to utilize existing resources and avoid over-provisioning of equipment.
Reduced Reliance on Equipment Vendors
The abstraction of hardware components that provide the server, storage and network needs has another significant benefit. Companies are no longer tied to specialized hardware or to hiring personnel with specific knowledge to manage these systems. Software-defined data center architectures make it possible to work with multiple vendor components. This reduces the dependency on proprietary systems.
Transformation: Breaking Down the Business IT Barrier
The software-defined data center’s revolution is still in its early stages, but it promises to transform the manner in which businesses operate. It provides a bridge between the business needs and the infrastructure needed to support it. The teams that specify the business requirements for a service are no longer at odds with the IT teams that cater to those needs. IT operations teams can focus on supporting the capacity and application requirements in a manner that directly provides value and visibility to their internal and external customers.