Welcome!

SDN Journal Authors: Elizabeth White, Yeshim Deniz, Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, TJ Randall

Related Topics: SDN Journal, Java IoT, Microservices Expo, Linux Containers, Containers Expo Blog, @CloudExpo

SDN Journal: Blog Feed Post

Software Defined Shouldn’t Be About Infrastructure

The focus of a Software Defined strategy should be the applications not the underlying infrastructure

The term "software defined" has taken many forms in recent months from Software Defined Datacenter (SDDC), Software Defined Infrastructure (SDI) to even component vendors adopting the tagline to exalt their own agenda with Software Defined Networking (SDN) and Software Defined Storage (SDS). Yet ironically the majority of the vendors adopting the tagline are also dealing with infrastructure product lines that a "software defined" approach is aiming to make irrelevant.

The emergence of the cloud illuminated to the industry that the procurement, design and deployment of the infrastructure components of network, storage and compute were a hindrance to application delivery. The inability for infrastructure components to not be quickly and successfully coordinated together as well as be automatically responsive to application needs has led many to question why traditional approaches to infrastructure are still being considered. In an attempt to safeguard themselves from this realisation, it's no surprise that the infrastructure vendors have adopted the software defined terminology and consequently marketed themselves as such even though at the end of the day they are still selling what is quintessentially hardware.

From the networking and storage perspective software defined is about abstracting legacy hardware from multiple vendors via virtualization so that the management and configuration is done completely by software. Instead of managing individual components based on their vendor, via APIs these now common pools of network and storage can be quickly and easily managed with automation and orchestration tools. Ironically though this has already existed for some time with examples being HDS' storage virtualization arrays and Nicira's pre-VMware takeover initiatives with OpenFlow, OpenvSwitch and OpenStack. Even the vAppliance concept that is taking on a "software defined" spin has been around for several years. Having the data planes and control of what was a legacy hardware appliance now go via a virtual version is nothing new when looked at in the context of VMware vShield Edge firewalls or NetApp's ONTAP Edge VSA. Looking behind the marketing smokescreen of ease of management & simplification etc. in reality though most if not all of these technologies were invested in and created to do one thing only and that was to take market share away from their competing vendors. By having all your legacy storage arrays or network switches now abstracted and consequently managed and configured by software that is provided by only one of those vendors, the control and future procurement decisions lie firmly in their park. So why do we need to take the software defined approach seriously if at all and what should be our focus if not the infrastructure products that "software defined" seems inherently linked to marketing?

Software defined is incredibly important and vital to IT and the businesses they support because it should bring the focus back on to what matters the most, namely the applications and not the underlying infrastructure.  A true software defined approach to infrastructure that considers the application as its focal point ultimately leads to infrastructure being treated as code where the underlying hardware becomes irrelevant. By configuring all the infrastructure interdependencies as code with an understanding that it needs to support the application and the various environmental transitions it will go through leads to a completely different mindset and approach in terms of subsequent configuration and management of infrastructure. In this case a converged infrastructure approach whereby infrastructure is pre-integrated, pretested and pre-validated from inception as a product ready platform for applications is most suited. Understanding the capabilities of what software defined really is, beyond the hyperbole of infrastructure vendors leads to practices where concepts such as Continuous Delivery, Continuous Deployment and Continuous Integration can take place leading to a radical transformation in the way IT delivers value to the business.

The focus of a Software Defined strategy should be the applications not the underlying infrastructure

So if and when you do face a sales pitch, a new product line or an infrastructure savvy consultant that espouses to you how great and wonderful "software defined" is, there are several things to note and question. Beyond the workings of the infrastructure components how much application awareness and intelligence is there? How will this enable a DevOps approach and a quicker, more reliable and repeatable code deployment that will meet the requirements of the changing demands of your business? How will this also mitigate risk and ensure that applications will not just have their infrastructure resources automated and met but also their consistency in code from development to QA to an eventual live environment?

It is these questions and challenges that a "software defined" approach addresses and solves enabling significant benefits to a business. Once application code changes become reliable, automated and consequently frequent based on an infrastructure that meets the changing demands of its applications, a business can quickly gain a competitive edge over its rivals. Being able to respond quickly to market trends such as ensuring your website can cater for a sudden upsurge of transactions from its mobile version, or countering a sudden commodity price change etc. are all key to gaining a competitive advantage and consequently require an application delivery process that responds to those needs. A "Software Defined" approach can help businesses reach that goal by automating the time consuming,  human error processes linked with IT, as long as they don't lose focus that it's about the applications and not just the infrastructure that supports it.

More Stories By Archie Hendryx

SAN, NAS, Back Up / Recovery & Virtualisation Specialist.

@CloudExpo Stories
Founded in 2000, Chetu Inc. is a global provider of customized software development solutions and IT staff augmentation services for software technology providers. By providing clients with unparalleled niche technology expertise and industry experience, Chetu has become the premiere long-term, back-end software development partner for start-ups, SMBs, and Fortune 500 companies. Chetu is headquartered in Plantation, Florida, with thirteen offices throughout the U.S. and abroad.
Dion Hinchcliffe is an internationally recognized digital expert, bestselling book author, frequent keynote speaker, analyst, futurist, and transformation expert based in Washington, DC. He is currently Chief Strategy Officer at the industry-leading digital strategy and online community solutions firm, 7Summits.
Bill Schmarzo, author of "Big Data: Understanding How Data Powers Big Business" and "Big Data MBA: Driving Business Strategies with Data Science," is responsible for setting the strategy and defining the Big Data service offerings and capabilities for EMC Global Services Big Data Practice. As the CTO for the Big Data Practice, he is responsible for working with organizations to help them identify where and how to start their big data journeys. He's written several white papers, is an avid blogge...
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that All in Mobile, a mobile app development company from Poland, will exhibit at the 22nd International CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO. All In Mobile is a mobile app development company from Poland. Since 2014, they maintain passion for developing mobile applications for enterprises and startups worldwide.
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that Dez Blanchfield joined the faculty of CloudEXPO's "10-Year Anniversary Event" which will take place on November 11-13, 2018 in New York City. Dez is a strategic leader in business and digital transformation with 25 years of experience in the IT and telecommunications industries developing strategies and implementing business initiatives. He has a breadth of expertise spanning technologies such as cloud computing, big data and analytics, cognitive computing, m...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, James Henry, Co-CEO/CTO of Calgary Scientific Inc., introduced you to the challenges, solutions and benefits of training AI systems to solve visual problems with an emphasis on improving AIs with continuous training in the field. He explored applications in several industries and discussed technologies that allow the deployment of advanced visualization solutions to the cloud.
We all know that end users experience the Internet primarily with mobile devices. From an app development perspective, we know that successfully responding to the needs of mobile customers depends on rapid DevOps – failing fast, in short, until the right solution evolves in your customers' relationship to your business. Whether you’re decomposing an SOA monolith, or developing a new application cloud natively, it’s not a question of using microservices – not doing so will be a path to eventual b...
I think DevOps is now a rambunctious teenager - it's starting to get a mind of its own, wanting to get its own things but it still needs some adult supervision," explained Thomas Hooker, VP of marketing at CollabNet, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps Summit at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Enterprises are moving to the cloud faster than most of us in security expected. CIOs are going from 0 to 100 in cloud adoption and leaving security teams in the dust. Once cloud is part of an enterprise stack, it’s unclear who has responsibility for the protection of applications, services, and data. When cloud breaches occur, whether active compromise or a publicly accessible database, the blame must fall on both service providers and users. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ben Johnson, C...
In this presentation, you will learn first hand what works and what doesn't while architecting and deploying OpenStack. Some of the topics will include:- best practices for creating repeatable deployments of OpenStack- multi-site considerations- how to customize OpenStack to integrate with your existing systems and security best practices.
"MobiDev is a software development company and we do complex, custom software development for everybody from entrepreneurs to large enterprises," explained Alan Winters, U.S. Head of Business Development at MobiDev, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Agile has finally jumped the technology shark, expanding outside the software world. Enterprises are now increasingly adopting Agile practices across their organizations in order to successfully navigate the disruptive waters that threaten to drown them. In our quest for establishing change as a core competency in our organizations, this business-centric notion of Agile is an essential component of Agile Digital Transformation. In the years since the publication of the Agile Manifesto, the conn...
"We work around really protecting the confidentiality of information, and by doing so we've developed implementations of encryption through a patented process that is known as superencipherment," explained Richard Blech, CEO of Secure Channels Inc., in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Major trends and emerging technologies – from virtual reality and IoT, to Big Data and algorithms – are helping organizations innovate in the digital era. However, to create real business value, IT must think beyond the ‘what’ of digital transformation to the ‘how’ to harness emerging trends, innovation and disruption. Architecture is the key that underpins and ties all these efforts together. In the digital age, it’s important to invest in architecture, extend the enterprise footprint to the cl...
Leading companies, from the Global Fortune 500 to the smallest companies, are adopting hybrid cloud as the path to business advantage. Hybrid cloud depends on cloud services and on-premises infrastructure working in unison. Successful implementations require new levels of data mobility, enabled by an automated and seamless flow across on-premises and cloud resources. In his general session at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Tevis, an IBM Storage Software Technical Strategist and Customer Solution Architec...
Data is the fuel that drives the machine learning algorithmic engines and ultimately provides the business value. In his session at Cloud Expo, Ed Featherston, a director and senior enterprise architect at Collaborative Consulting, discussed the key considerations around quality, volume, timeliness, and pedigree that must be dealt with in order to properly fuel that engine.
"We were founded in 2003 and the way we were founded was about good backup and good disaster recovery for our clients, and for the last 20 years we've been pretty consistent with that," noted Marc Malafronte, Territory Manager at StorageCraft, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Effectively SMBs and government programs must address compounded regulatory compliance requirements. The most recent are Controlled Unclassified Information and the EU's GDPR have Board Level implications. Managing sensitive data protection will likely result in acquisition criteria, demonstration requests and new requirements. Developers, as part of the pre-planning process and the associated supply chain, could benefit from updating their code libraries and design by incorporating changes. In...
Andi Mann, Chief Technology Advocate at Splunk, is an accomplished digital business executive with extensive global expertise as a strategist, technologist, innovator, marketer, and communicator. For over 30 years across five continents, he has built success with Fortune 500 corporations, vendors, governments, and as a leading research analyst and consultant.
No hype cycles or predictions of zillions of things here. IoT is big. You get it. You know your business and have great ideas for a business transformation strategy. What comes next? Time to make it happen. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jay Mason, Associate Partner at M&S Consulting, presented a step-by-step plan to develop your technology implementation strategy. He discussed the evaluation of communication standards and IoT messaging protocols, data analytics considerations, edge-to-cloud tec...
Today we can collect lots and lots of performance data. We build beautiful dashboards and even have fancy query languages to access and transform the data. Still performance data is a secret language only a couple of people understand. The more business becomes digital the more stakeholders are interested in this data including how it relates to business. Some of these people have never used a monitoring tool before. They have a question on their mind like “How is my application doing” but no id...