Welcome!

SDN Journal Authors: Liz McMillan, Brian Lavallée, Hovhannes Avoyan, Peter Silva, Lori MacVittie

Related Topics: SDN Journal, Java, SOA & WOA, Linux, Virtualization, Cloud Expo, Security, Big Data Journal

SDN Journal: Article

Bringing Software-Defined to the Data Center

Lower costs and increase control

"Software-defined," like any new trend that technology companies rush to attach to has suffered from marketing hype. Starting in mid-2012 with the acquisition of Nicera by VMware, most traditional infrastructure technology vendors across compute, networking, and storage have some messaging around how software-defined fits into their product strategy.

But software-defined is not a traditional concept. Since the transition from mainframe to distributed computing, corresponding with the rise in networking, most technologies in the data center have been very hardware specific. For many years, the way to get the right amount of intelligence in the right place to execute the functionality has been with specialized hardware.

Software-defined is fairly self-explanatory. The value is in the software, with one of the biggest benefits being the use of standard hardware that is a fraction of the cost of vendor-specific hardware, which has been the norm for data centers since the beginning of the 21st century. Standard hardware from servers to networking devices have so many resources available that specialized hardware no longer provides the differentiation it once did.

Freedom from hardware opens up freedom to extend SDDC outside the walls of the data center. SDDC helps organizations deliver a modern private cloud in the same model that large operators like Amazon and Rackspace use to deliver public cloud. What's more, using the right software-defined technologies enables hybrid cloud, the panacea for most enterprises. This is one of the main reasons that open source technologies, and those with very strong standards are emerging in the software-defined space.

That said, software defined has the biggest opportunity to benefit private data centers, where the majority of applications simply cannot run in the public cloud based on policy or preference. Here are some best practices when looking at how software defined can benefit your private data center architecture:

Take advantage of your already efficient procurement: Odds are your organization has a go-to vendor or reseller of servers. Whether from HP, Dell, or a white box vendor like Supermicro, the premium paid on server infrastructure is much smaller than with storage. You may even have a volume purchase agreement, making purchasing of hardware for software-defined storage even more affordable. Buying infrastructure for SDDC is no different than your channels for standard servers and networking equipment.

Insist on standards compliance to avoid future lock-in: SDDC is a real opportunity to reduce or eliminate lock-in among the technologies used in your data center. The best software-defined solutions are based on industry standards so freedom to change is retained. This is more than basic interoperability with a standard API, as that case still relies on the software vendor to keep up with changes. Avoid software-defined solutions that are vendor specific and limit your flexibility to integrate and innovate as this market continues to evolve.

Have a preference for open source technologies: Once dismissed by their proprietary competitors as immature, open source operating systems, middleware, application frameworks, and databases are now standards in the data center. The same trend will hold true for software-defined solutions. Using an open source technology does not preclude organizations from working with commercial vendors to support the success of open source in the data center architecture.

Where are the biggest opportunities to use software defined? We believe it is in storage, a solution area where very large premiums have been paid for many years, based on the perception that specialized hardware was the only way to keep data safe and available. The biggest operators have proven the opposite - they can be available to millions of concurrent users without downtime or losing data while using standard hardware and intelligent software.

The reality is data is simply growing too fast and must be retained too long, at a cost that in many cases must be as close to zero as possible. Plus, unstructured data is the fastest growing, fueled by SaaS applications and the transition to mobile devices. Any private data center today is in direct competition with the operators of large public clouds. Internal users demand the flexibility and operating costs the big operators have proven are possible, so private operators must use the same software-defined strategy to remain competitive.

"Utility Computing" was a hyped trend at the start of this century that was before its time. Some might classify SDDC in the same category, all hype. Objectively, SDDC is a natural extension of cloud, and should prove to be equally as disruptive to the data center architecture as cloud has been. Software used for compute, networking, and storage will need to be as standard as the servers you buy today in order to fit into your data center architecture of the future.

More Stories By Joe Arnold

Joe Arnold founded SwiftStack to deploy high-scale, open-source cloud storage systems using OpenStack. He managed the first public OpenStack Swift launch independent of Rackspace, and has subsequently deployed multiple large-scale cloud storage systems. He is currently building tools to deploy and manage OpenStack Swift with his firm, SwiftStack.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


Cloud Expo Latest Stories
14th International Cloud Expo, held on June 10–12, 2014 at the Javits Center in New York City, featured three content-packed days with a rich array of sessions about the business and technical value of cloud computing, Internet of Things, Big Data, and DevOps led by exceptional speakers from every sector of the IT ecosystem. The Cloud Expo series is the fastest-growing Enterprise IT event in the past 10 years, devoted to every aspect of delivering massively scalable enterprise IT as a service.
Hardware will never be more valuable than on the day it hits your loading dock. Each day new servers are not deployed to production the business is losing money. While Moore’s Law is typically cited to explain the exponential density growth of chips, a critical consequence of this is rapid depreciation of servers. The hardware for clustered systems (e.g., Hadoop, OpenStack) tends to be significant capital expenses. In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Mason Katz, CTO and co-founder of StackIQ, to discuss how infrastructure teams should be aware of the capitalization and depreciation model of these expenses to fully understand when and where automation is critical.
Over the last few years the healthcare ecosystem has revolved around innovations in Electronic Health Record (HER) based systems. This evolution has helped us achieve much desired interoperability. Now the focus is shifting to other equally important aspects – scalability and performance. While applying cloud computing environments to the EHR systems, a special consideration needs to be given to the cloud enablement of Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture (VistA), i.e., the largest single medical system in the United States.
In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Mark Hinkle, Senior Director, Open Source Solutions at Citrix Systems Inc., will provide overview of the open source software that can be used to deploy and manage a cloud computing environment. He will include information on storage, networking(e.g., OpenDaylight) and compute virtualization (Xen, KVM, LXC) and the orchestration(Apache CloudStack, OpenStack) of the three to build their own cloud services. Speaker Bio: Mark Hinkle is the Senior Director, Open Source Solutions, at Citrix Systems Inc. He joined Citrix as a result of their July 2011 acquisition of Cloud.com where he was their Vice President of Community. He is currently responsible for Citrix open source efforts around the open source cloud computing platform, Apache CloudStack and the Xen Hypervisor. Previously he was the VP of Community at Zenoss Inc., a producer of the open source application, server, and network management software, where he grew the Zenoss Core project to over 10...
Most of today’s hardware manufacturers are building servers with at least one SATA Port, but not every systems engineer utilizes them. This is considered a loss in the game of maximizing potential storage space in a fixed unit. The SATADOM Series was created by Innodisk as a high-performance, small form factor boot drive with low power consumption to be plugged into the unused SATA port on your server board as an alternative to hard drive or USB boot-up. Built for 1U systems, this powerful device is smaller than a one dollar coin, and frees up otherwise dead space on your motherboard. To meet the requirements of tomorrow’s cloud hardware, Innodisk invested internal R&D resources to develop our SATA III series of products. The SATA III SATADOM boasts 500/180MBs R/W Speeds respectively, or double R/W Speed of SATA II products.
As more applications and services move "to the cloud" (public or on-premise) cloud environments are increasingly adopting and building out traditional enterprise features. This in turn is enabling and encouraging cloud adoption from enterprise users. In many ways the definition is blurring as features like continuous operation, geo-distribution or on-demand capacity become the norm. NuoDB is involved in both building enterprise software and using enterprise cloud capabilities. In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Seth Proctor, CTO at NuoDB, Inc., will discuss the experiences from building, deploying and using enterprise services and suggest some ways to approach moving enterprise applications into a cloud model.
Until recently, many organizations required specialized departments to perform mapping and geospatial analysis, and they used Esri on-premise solutions for that work. In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Dave Peters, author of the Esri Press book Building a GIS, System Architecture Design Strategies for Managers, will discuss how Esri has successfully included the cloud as a fully integrated SaaS expansion of the ArcGIS mapping platform. Organizations that have incorporated Esri cloud-based applications and content within their business models are reaping huge benefits by directly leveraging cloud-based mapping and analysis capabilities within their existing enterprise investments. The ArcGIS mapping platform includes cloud-based content management and information resources to more widely, efficiently, and affordably deliver real-time actionable information and analysis capabilities to your organization.
Almost everyone sees the potential of Internet of Things but how can businesses truly unlock that potential. The key will be in the ability to discover business insight in the midst of an ocean of Big Data generated from billions of embedded devices via Systems of Discover. Businesses will also need to ensure that they can sustain that insight by leveraging the cloud for global reach, scale and elasticity. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Mac Devine, Distinguished Engineer at IBM, will discuss bringing these three elements together via Systems of Discover.
Cloud and Big Data present unique dilemmas: embracing the benefits of these new technologies while maintaining the security of your organization’s assets. When an outside party owns, controls and manages your infrastructure and computational resources, how can you be assured that sensitive data remains private and secure? How do you best protect data in mixed use cloud and big data infrastructure sets? Can you still satisfy the full range of reporting, compliance and regulatory requirements? In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Derek Tumulak, Vice President of Product Management at Vormetric, will discuss how to address data security in cloud and Big Data environments so that your organization isn’t next week’s data breach headline.
The cloud is everywhere and growing, and with it SaaS has become an accepted means for software delivery. SaaS is more than just a technology, it is a thriving business model estimated to be worth around $53 billion dollars by 2015, according to IDC. The question is – how do you build and scale a profitable SaaS business model? In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Jason Cumberland, Vice President, SaaS Solutions at Dimension Data, will give the audience an understanding of common mistakes businesses make when transitioning to SaaS; how to avoid them; and how to build a profitable and scalable SaaS business.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Gridstore™, the leader in software-defined storage (SDS) purpose-built for Windows Servers and Hyper-V, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Gridstore™ is the leader in software-defined storage purpose built for virtualization that is designed to accelerate applications in virtualized environments. Using its patented Server-Side Virtual Controller™ Technology (SVCT) to eliminate the I/O blender effect and accelerate applications Gridstore delivers vmOptimized™ Storage that self-optimizes to each application or VM across both virtual and physical environments. Leveraging a grid architecture, Gridstore delivers the first end-to-end storage QoS to ensure the most important App or VM performance is never compromised. The storage grid, that uses Gridstore’s performance optimized nodes or capacity optimized nodes, starts with as few a...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Solgenia, the global market leader in Cloud Collaboration and Cloud Infrastructure software solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Solgenia is the global market leader in Cloud Collaboration and Cloud Infrastructure software solutions. Designed to “Bridge the Gap” between personal and professional social, mobile and cloud user experiences, our solutions help large and medium-sized organizations dramatically improve productivity, reduce collaboration costs, and increase the overall enterprise value by bringing collaboration and infrastructure solutions to the cloud.
Cloud computing started a technology revolution; now DevOps is driving that revolution forward. By enabling new approaches to service delivery, cloud and DevOps together are delivering even greater speed, agility, and efficiency. No wonder leading innovators are adopting DevOps and cloud together! In his session at DevOps Summit, Andi Mann, Vice President of Strategic Solutions at CA Technologies, will explore the synergies in these two approaches, with practical tips, techniques, research data, war stories, case studies, and recommendations.
Enterprises require the performance, agility and on-demand access of the public cloud, and the management, security and compatibility of the private cloud. The solution? In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Simone Brunozzi, VP and Chief Technologist(global role) for VMware, will explore how to unlock the power of the hybrid cloud and the steps to get there. He'll discuss the challenges that conventional approaches to both public and private cloud computing, and outline the tough decisions that must be made to accelerate the journey to the hybrid cloud. As part of the transition, an Infrastructure-as-a-Service model will enable enterprise IT to build services beyond their data center while owning what gets moved, when to move it, and for how long. IT can then move forward on what matters most to the organization that it supports – availability, agility and efficiency.
Every healthy ecosystem is diverse. This is especially true in cloud ecosystems, where portability and interoperability are more important than old enterprise models of proprietary ownership. In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Mark Baker, Server Product Manager at Canonical/Ubuntu, will discuss how single vendors used to take the lead in creating and delivering technology, but in a cloud economy, where users want tools of their preference, when and where they need them, it makes no sense.