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The Rise of Software-Defined Data Centers: Here's What You Need to Know

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From just dipping their technological toe in the water to fully hosted data centers in the cloud, organizations have begun to embrace a wide range of managed services. If your organization has followed this path, then it is likely that you have heard the phrase “software defined data centers” (SDDC) and wondered what it meant and if it was right for your operations.

Forrester’s Robert Stroud defines SDDC as “an integrated abstraction layer that defines a complete data center by means of a layer of software that presents the resources of the data center as pools of virtual and physical resources and allows their composition into arbitrary user-defined services."

Or, in other words, an SDDC can allow an organization to use intelligent software to determine how to manage your applications’ workflow and monitor networking, storage, CPU, and security functions. This means that how your infrastructure is provisioned and configured in the cloud is hardware-agnostic and instead defined by the software overseeing their operations.

Benefits of SDDC

So what does all this mean for your organization and its bottom line? Gartner’s John Morency summarizes SDDC’s benefits as having more of three things: agility, flexibility, and automation. With the software doing more work on your staff’s behalf, your IT resources can focus on other initiatives knowing that, regardless of the demands on the CPU and storage, your environment can be agile and flexible enough to maintain high availability.

An SDDC also allows an organization to “pool” its resources and provision them, much like a private cloud provider would. This is achievable because the applications running are able to build, provision, and deploy resources as they are needed, which enables workloads to move across the physical IT infrastructure according to how the software programs it to move. Ultimately, this means that your organization can also potentially realize lower operating costs and reduced management overhead.

Getting the SDDC Conversation Started

Starting the discussion around SDDC and its benefits to your organization doesn’t have to be any different than previous IT investment decisions. Just as investments in mobile technology and cloud-based software, for example, have increased your organization’s productivity and helped to save costs, SDDC can do the same.

Therefore, before you begin to collect your thoughts on whether SDDC is right for your organization and engage other stakeholders, keep these key points in mind:

1.  Get the rest of the organization on board

Though SDDC could be a difficult concept to grasp for those in traditional business operational roles, frame the conversation in terms familiar to your audience. SDDC has the opportunity to introduce improvements in application response times, decrease operational costs, and free up IT resources for other initiatives.

2. Identify examples of how SDDC can change operations

The area in which SDDC really proves its worth is in how much it simplifies management of the data center. Because SDDC virtualizes everything about the data center—from storage to its switches, routers, and servers—all of the network resources can be managed from a single interface. As all parts are defined by software, they can be automated, created on demand, and mapped for enhanced reliability, agility, and flexibility without tying up as many IT professionals.

3. Create a roadmap for implementation

The move to an SDDC model will take significant effort from across your business and IT staff, but the move doesn’t always have to be a big bang. Start with a plan to define your timeline, what is in scope, and who will be involved, and then consider piloting the change as part of a larger, wave-based migration. Also, consider engaging an experienced vendor to avoid common pitfalls and improve the speed at which gains are realized.

4. Make security a priority

Deciding to implement SDDC can add additional security benefits to your organization that should be highlighted. In traditional data centers, network traffic is only controlled as it enters and exits; utilizing the SDDC model allows for additional security within and across the environment. In other words, if hackers find their way past the initial firewalls and security tools, the segmentation and flexibility of the SDDC environment means additional controls, rules, and barriers to thwart their reach.

5. Keep the future in mind

Another benefit of the SDDC model is that it can scale and grow as your organization does, so you don’t have to lock in to multi-year equipment leases or deal with the frustration of hardware preferences changes. SDDC runs across your environment regardless of the brand of hardware, and additional storage and capacity can be created in almost real time as it is needed. SDDC, therefore, allows for more flexibility in forecasting future IT spending.

Next Steps

A transition to a SDDC isn’t going to happen without hard work, resources, and time. However, the benefits to your organization when it comes to its flexibility and agility can, like other IT investments, pay dividends. Luckily, as hardware and software options have evolved, so too have the quality and depth of the managed services providers to help guide your organization through the migration. Start a conversation with the FNTS team, who can demonstrate how they can play a key role in assisting with the creation of a business case, facilitating adoption, and supporting the transition of your IT infrastructure to one that is software-defined.

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