Dimension Data warns that it is later than you think
Dimension Data, the USD 6 billion global ICT services and solutions providers says organisations need to prepare now for software-defined data centres (SDDC), as virtualisation at every level of the IT landscape is inevitable.
"Although most organisations won’t see the benefit of SDDCs for some time, the operational decisions that organisations make now will impact their ability to take full advantage of them when the time comes," says Kevin Leahy, global General Manager of Dimension Data’s Data Centre Business Unit.
"Like virtualisation, implementing an SDDC will be a journey. Virtualisation became possible in the late 1990s but it’s taken almost fifteen years to become a tangible operational asset – and then only in 80% of companies. That’s because it calls for considerable change management that is organisation-specific. There’s no single way to approach or implement virtualisation. The same will apply to SDDC.
"We know from our experience in networking and systems in general, that the core focus in any software-defined discipline is the need for integration – not just of systems, but also business processes.
"We’re seeing progressively more organisations approach us for help to achieve that integration. We’ve been particularly interested to see that they understand that ‘software-defined’ is a trend that impacts every aspect of operations and will in fact, force change in the data centre sooner rather than later."
Virtualisation and the emerging software-defined network are already exerting additional pressure on the management of conventional data centres. This pressure will, in turn, create the need for SDDCs.
"Whether you are reconsidering your data centre from the perspective of mobility, data growth, the cloud, consolidation, or virtualisation, the one consistent element you have to take into account is your network," Leahy says. "It’s what makes everything else possible.
"As functionality is being extracted progressively more from the hardware into the software layer of the network, the network is becoming much more flexible. Because this enables benefits such as higher use of nodes, orchestration, and connectivity on demand, it enables substantial cost savings and increased efficiencies.
"However, a lack of software-defined capabilities in the data centre would create a bottleneck, impeding the realisation of these benefits in the network as well as the data centre. It would also prevent the data centre from fully benefiting from virtualisation."
As with all step changes in technology, a software-defined approach – whether to the network or the data centre – requires new skills in IT and necessitate changes to business processes.
This is where the need for planning kicks in. Each organisation’s skills and change management requirements will differ depending on how it chooses to allocate its workload.
"The discussion about the SDDC is the same as that for the cloud," Leahy explains. "The amount and type of work you allocate to the cloud determines how much of it remains to be managed in the data centre. This will dictate how much physical as opposed to virtual infrastructure you need and, therefore, the degree to which your data centre needs to be software-defined.
"Most technology vendors are building software-defined offerings geared to sell their own products. Many of these products will quite rightly be a part of a software-defined environment that may or may not include your data centre. The trick is to choose the ones that will make your business sustainable."