In the past decade, organizations across all industries have come to realize that new technologies and methodologies can eliminate many of the management challenges that have traditionally been a part of supporting email and other applications.
Today, the same thing is happening with storage, computing and networking. While cloud software has streamlined software support, technologies such as hyperconverged infrastructure, flash storage, cloud management software and software-defined networking are helping to build out software-defined data centers. In a true SDDC, all infrastructure elements — including networking, storage, computing and security — are virtualized and delivered as a service. With each step organizations take toward creating an SDDC, they’re better able to automate and simplify labor-intensive management tasks, helping to make their operations more agile and redirect IT staffers’ time toward more innovative projects.
Here’s how four different technologies are supporting organizations’ march toward true SDDCs.
1. Hyperconverged Infrastructure
In a hyperconverged solution, such as Nutanix or Dell EMC’s VxRail, both servers and storage are software-defined. These solutions practically eliminate the need for a storage administrator, freeing up whomever is in that role to tackle more business-critical IT challenges.
In a traditional storage environment, administrators need to set up specific protocols to optimize performance and also watch for hot spots. By contrast, storage in a hyperconverged environment is presented as one big pool, making the solution highly redundant and fault-resistant.
2. All-Flash Storage
When building out SDDCs, organizations should strive to make their data centers as low-touch as possible. While improved performance is typically the top driver for flash storage adoption, all-flash arrays also tend to last longer and are more reliable than spinning discs, decreasing the amount of monitoring and maintenance needed to keep them running.
As an added bonus, many organizations can actually save money over the long term with investments in flash. While the upfront price is usually higher than that of traditional storage, the total cost of ownership over a seven-year period is often lower.
3. Cloud Management Software
The cloud has revolutionized the way IT shops deliver resources to end users throughout their organizations. But manual management of public, private and hybrid cloud environments can be costly, time-consuming and inefficient. Cloud management platforms such as CloudBolt and VMware’s vRealize Suite have sprung up to streamline management and patching, enable additional visibility and provide self-service capabilities to users.
As a result, IT administrators can quickly see who is using what resources, and easily enact rules and limits to prevent cloud sprawl and overspending. Self-service is an often-overlooked benefit. I’ve seen organizations that take up to eight weeks to provision and deliver new resources to end users. With cloud self-service, that time frame gets reduced to 30 minutes or less — a significant improvement.
4. Software-Defined Networking
In the SDDC of the future, perhaps all network traffic will be carried by software-defined networking solutions. Today, the use of SDN is largely limited to microsegmentation, which allows organizations to quarantine parts of the network, such as servers, in their own “bubbles,” helping to improve security. But over time, SDN technologies will also reduce configuration and implementation challenges, helping organizations to further automate their data centers.
When I think about SDDCs, I’m reminded of this saying that is often used to describe the ever-evolving state of IT: “The pace of change has never been this fast before, and yet it will never be this slow again.”
At times, it can feel as though technology is moving forward so quickly — and becoming so complex — that it will be difficult for even the most seasoned experts to keep up. But by embracing the four technologies above, IT leaders can simplify their work and confidently navigate their way through the future.