Software-defined data centre: simpler, better and faster
The software-defined data centre provides a common virtual infrastructure for migrating computing resources between private, public and hybrid clouds, delivering the best of both worlds to companies.
As the cloud becomes the de facto choice for most companies and having your own hardware resources on-site becomes a thing of the past, so the realisation is dawning that even your data centre structures can consist of completely virtualised infrastructure and can simply be managed by software.
According to Shawn Jubber, senior solutions architect at CoCre8, a bricks-and-mortar data centre tends to be complex, owing to the disparate technologies and providers that make up the entirety of the organisation’s data centre solution. This means it is complicated and operationally ‘heavy’, because different skills sets are required for each of the storage, network, compute and security components, and even sometimes for the technologies of the different vendors involved.
“This is why the software-defined data centre (SDDC) is becoming increasingly popular. What this essentially does is it virtualises the entire physical infrastructure and aims to collapse the entire stack into a single, virtual approach, thereby creating simplicity in a historically complex environment, reducing costs and making management of the data centre simpler and more efficient,” he says.
“The SDDC is a combination of software-defined networking (SDN), software-defined storage (SDS) and software-defined compute (SDC). This means that deployment, operation, provisioning and configuration are abstracted from hardware, as these tasks are now implemented through a software layer instead.”
Philip Bradley, NetApp business manager at CoCre8, adds that the cloud has opened up a new world of possibilities for organisations, which can now access micro-services in the public cloud that enable them to create cloud applications and functionality that would be unavailable in a traditional data centre.
“Traditionally, to build such applications, the company would have either needed its own developers to create them natively, or they would have had to buy them off the shelf. The cloud, of course, has eliminated such requirements,” he explains.
“However, as cloud platforms are becoming more popular, so enterprises are realising that the costs of their cloud environments can easily run rampant. This leads to some to try bringing at least certain aspects of their data back on-premises. There are many reasons for this, including server sprawl, orphaned servers and security, and policy procedures. This, in turn, creates a new challenge, as traditional data centre infrastructure is often not suitable for successfully running applications that were born in the cloud. Often, even existing applications that were moved into the cloud have morphed into something that is now incompatible.”
This, suggests Bradley, is why a hybrid cloud model built on a software-defined infrastructure will have a place for many years to come, especially in South Africa, where data remains expensive and access to global data centres is still comparatively slow.
“And the key to an effective hybrid environment is undoubtedly an SDDC, which provides a common virtual infrastructure for migrating computing resources between private, public and hybrid clouds, delivering the best of both worlds to organisations.”
Jubber adds that other benefits of an SDDC include the fact that it makes it easy to dynamically configure and provision applications, infrastructure and IT resources, while it can also capitalise on the agility, elasticity and scalability of cloud computing.
“Further, SDDCs allow for the automation of functions, especially manually intensive tasks related to provisioning and operational management. This means that the business is able to reduce both costs and management overheads.
“Being software, it is also easy to develop, evolve and change it, which means that your look and feel remains the same, regardless of whether you are in the public or private cloud. And this is the true beauty of the software-defined approach – it essentially makes the platform you are working on invisible,” he concludes.