As we see software-defined everything emerge, network and data centers as we know it today will evolve into a cloud-based controller design. Let’s take a look at how this technology is poised to make dramatic changes to the way that organizations design, deploy and manage networks and storage.  

Software-Defined Data Center (SDDC)

The Software-Defined Data Center is a marketing term popularized by the hypervisor companies, namely VMware, Citrix and Microsoft.  The naming describes their vision of the future, where data center services such as compute, network, storage, security and availability are pooled, aggregated and managed by intelligent policy-driven software, thus providing self-service, automation and application and business management. Essentially, this is marketing’s way of rebranding of the Virtual Data Center.

Software-Defined Storage

This is a marketing expression being touted by startup storage vendors to traditional vendors like NetApp and EMC. At its core, software defined storage usually refers to the disaggregation of storage functionality that was previously included as part of a storage array management layer. It can be anything from a simple volume manager to storage virtualization software that pools and aggregates hard disk capacity, thin provisions, auto tiers, etc. Others say software-defined storage delivers storage virtualization capabilities as part of an operating system or hypervisor. Marketing spins may be different , but for now it appears that software-defined storage is an attempt by vendors to put a spin on technologies that have been around for some time now

Software-Defined Networking

Software-defined networking is an approach to networking in which control is decoupled from the physical infrastructure, allowing network administrators to support a network fabric across multi-vendor equipment.

The goal of software defined networking is to allow network engineers and admin’s to respond quickly to changing business requirements. In a software-defined network, a network administrator can shape traffic from a centralized control console without having to touch individual switches. This is a huge benefit in cloud or multi-tenant environments that require flexibility and remote on the fly changes.  Take note of Cisco and VMware’s ongoing struggle to take this market and define how it will be deployed.

Although the marketing teams now focus on the software layer, and hardware components are relegated to commodity products, its important to consider the following:

Choose Products with a Reputation for Reliability

Organizations should consider the reputation of both vendor and products. Because storage and server components support mission-critical applications, reliability is paramount.

Below are some things to look for when choosing a new vendor or product:

  • Resiliency, including the use of high-quality components and design strategies that make failure less likely
  • Redundancy, the use of duplicate components within the hardware to help ensure uptime
  • Recoverability features that help mitigate downtime
  • While they don’t tell the entire story, industry recognition and independent reviews can be a good indicator of quality.

Future-Proof Your Data Center

Software defined datacenters remove a lot of the legacy investment protection concerns we had in the past.  They are flexible, modular, highly scalable, and leverage interchangeable hardware components.   No one knows what changes the future will bring for sure; however smart infrastructure choices give IT managers a better chance to prepare their organizations for the future.

The best way to future-proof infrastructure is to choose products and a vendor that has consistently provided the innovative, scalable, flexible, reliable products its customers need as technologies evolve. That way, the data center will be prepared for growth and changing business requirements, while minimizing total cost of ownership

Check out CDW’s Next Generation Networking page for even more software-defined networking information.

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