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Have you ever been sitting in a meeting when the conversation turns to a technology with which you are unfamiliar? Suddenly, a bunch of acronyms are being thrown around, and you have no idea what they mean, while everyone else is nodding their heads and seems to know exactly what is being discussed.

We've all been there, and to help our valued customers, the engineers at WWT set out to write a series of 'primer articles' to provide basic information on various products and technologies. This article is going to cover the basics of a software-defined data center (SDDC).

The makings of an SDDC

An SDDC is a combination of software-defined infrastructure (SDI) and automation and orchestration (A&O) software. Put differently, an SDDC needs physical or virtual infrastructure that can be defined programmatically through APIs, and those APIs need A&O software to leverage those APIs.

The SDI portion of an SDDC is composed of three types of infrastructure:

  • Software-defined storage
  • Software-defined networking
  • Software-defined compute

The A&O portion of an SDDC usually consists of some or all of the following:

  • Infrastructure automation software
  • Cloud and operations management software
  • Service management software
Software-defined data center components
Software-defined data center components

Traditional data center challenges

Traditional IT infrastructure usually consists of three separate teams to manage storage, networking and compute resources. These teams are often engaged through ticketing systems and manual intervention when a request is submitted (ex. developers need a pristine environment to host application builds). This approach results some undesirable attributes:

  • It's slow. Tasks are often executed in series with lengthy periods of downtime separating active work. The active work itself requires manual and custom intervention by IT staff that are already working on other tasks.
  • It's inconsistent. Most of the individual tasks are performed manually by infrastructure administrators. A change or mistake anywhere in the process from any of these administrators can result in a different outcome. It's challenging to achieve identical outcomes from individual requests. Measuring quality and compliance through automated testing is often overlooked.
  • It's risky, even costly. Traditional IT infrastructure often leads to unpredictable timelines for changes or deployments and results in inconsistent outcomes. These two things combined increase the overall risk of making changes and can be potentially costly to businesses if changes negatively impact revenue-generating services.

SDDC enables the private cloud

Software-defined data centers are designed to overcome these challenges. A well-implemented SDDC offers the accelerated delivery of consistent data center services. These services are delivered predictably and reliably through automation, eliminating inter-task delays, configuration drift and manual changes or errors.

There are many individual use cases for an SDDC:

  • Core infrastructure deployments and upgrades
  • Application platform deployments
  • Multi-tenant IaaS and PaaS lifecycling
  • Rapid deployment and teardown of virtual data centers used for iterative testing
  • Individualized self-service storage, network and compute service deployments

A more holistic view of an SDDC is as a key enabler of private cloud or multicloud. Private clouds can offer the same consumption model benefits that public clouds offer but with one key difference: organizations that leverage private clouds need to be able to both consume and deliver private cloud services. The speed and consistency provided by an SDDC are key enablers to delivering private cloud services.

Software-defined data center core component of a private cloud model
Software-defined data center is a core component of a private cloud model

Learn more

Depending on where your organization is in its progression from SDI to SDDC to private cloud, WWT has resources to help. Check out some recent WWT articles about VMware Cloud Foundation and VMware Data Center Strategy.  

If you're interested in getting your hands on the technology, schedule some time in WWT's VMware SDDC Manager,VMware Cloud Foundation or VMware Cloud on AWS labs. If you'd like an experience more customized to your organization's specific needs, we recommend scheduling a SDDC Workshop

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