In recent months organizations worldwide have experienced overwhelming new demands on their legacy data center hardware. Their battle-tested IT teams now understand the urgent need for modernization — it’s just a question of what shape their next-gen environment should take.
One promising alternative is the software-defined data center (SDDC). For those unfamiliar, the software-defined data center is designed to overcome the drawbacks of a traditional three-tier infrastructure. Whereas legacy data centers can be slow, inconsistent and costly, a well-implemented SDDC solution combines a software-defined infrastructure with automation and orchestration to deliver services predictably and reliably.
Nevertheless, despite these potential performance gains, some companies have been hesitant to adopt an SDDC environment. They might have concerns with adopting a single-vendor platform approach. Or, they question whether the outcome of an SDDC deployment is worth the investment.
Understanding the benefits and challenges of implementing an SDDC environment is complex, and in truth, SDDC is not perfect for every organization. We’d like to share some considerations when deciding if SDDC might be right for you.
Considering the pros and cons of SDDC
If you’re looking for consistent, optimized, accelerated data center services, the advantages of an SDDC approach are appealing: The speed and consistency of SDDC environments are pivotal to supporting private cloud and multicloud capabilities. Other SDDC use cases encompass core infrastructure deployments and upgrades, support for modernized, cloud-native applications, and multi-tenant IaaS and PaaS lifecycling.
So why isn’t SDDC applicable to just about every IT modernization use case? Primarily three reasons: first, many organizations with strong multivendor relationships are leery of getting locked into a platform approach that commits them to a proprietary solution from a single software vendor. Others might regard SDDC as a viable but cost-prohibitive solution for the outcome they’re looking for, while still others are hesitant to take on the disruption that planning and deploying a software-defined data center solution entails. SDDC isn’t just a technical shift, it's a transformational change that impacts how they provide services to customers.
But, there are cases when a platform solution like SDDC is absolutely worth the effort and investment — especially given the great global reality check of 2020. What follows are three reasons why a software-defined data center may benefit an organization – and how WWT can help you determine if it’s right for yours.
Reason #1: Providing support and scalability
Choosing to be safe rather than sorry, legacy IT organization sometimes “overbuy” resources, so that they can scale up compute, storage and networking as needed. But, that overbuying can result in a costly investment that might even go unused. WWT technology partner VMware offers a simplified resource allocation solution for the software-defined data center: the VMware Cloud Foundation’s SDDC Manager. It provides a centralized management plane to provision, monitor and manage the logical and physical resources that make up the VMware Cloud Foundation (VCF) based private cloud.
SDDC offers supportability at scale: instead of overbuying for compute, storage and networking, it allows IT staff to configure additional racks into a single pool of consolidated resources, shifting and/or scaling workloads wherever they’re needed without having to rebuild infrastructure. In addition, SDDC simplifies lifecycle management for entire workload domains. Administrators can get down to the firmware level, easily performing tasks that used to take much longer.
Reason #2: Eliminating silos to bring teams together
In a typical legacy infrastructure environment, compute, storage and networking resources often are managed by separate, siloed teams. Problems can arise when teams focus only on their respective domains, rather than working together for the good of the overall infrastructure. And when things go wrong, it can lead to blame-casting at a time when what’s needed is problem-solving. With SDDC, resource management staff function as part of a single, restructured platform team.
For managing a private cloud, a single team working together is more than just highly desired — it’s a required outcome. Decisions are made with the good of the entire platform and all its resources in mind. Functioning as a single team promotes responsibility and reduces instances of finger-pointing. And, organizations can manage more infrastructure with fewer people.
Reason #3: Providing specific use case benefits across the enterprise
When evaluating a place for SDDC in your organization, it’s best to get the perspectives of multiple stakeholders. Different SDDC capabilities might be more meaningful and compelling to certain users across the enterprise. For example, consider a hypothetical company where:
- Application owners want to move to a DevOps model and focus on microservices to abstract some of the application’s legacy architecture. Or, they want greater visibility into the cost of application services to predict project expenses.
- Platform engineers struggle to be more in tune with the needs of application owners.
- Developers who are responsible for moving to DevOps delivery for certain elements could build a series of microservices to abstract mainframe and certain distributed systems.
In the past, an application owner might have needed up to two months to produce a development copy of the production application. Now, the SDDC platform can make it happen in less than a day. Let’s say IT staff identifies a potential storage capacity issue. SDDC tools enable them to issue a service request almost instantly, with no need to scramble an entire “war room” team.
In short, SDDC can offer benefits for every user need across the enterprise, with the speed and consistency to help accomplish varied objectives.
Leveraging the right SDDC technologies for your organization
Virtually all the essential elements of IT modernization can be built into the software-defined data center: scalability, accelerated performance, flexibility, security, and more. But that’s not to say it’s the ideal fit for every environment: if you value your longstanding multivendor relationships, or you’re averse to big, disruptive changes right now, SDDC might not be the most appropriate solution.
Determining if SDDC is the right fit for you requires deep exploration from an experienced advisor who can identify the best technologies to support it. WWT has the expertise and industry relationships to help you make that determination. In addition to its collaboration with VMware, WWT works closely with other key OEM partners like Dell who offer agile and responsive technology to power your SDDC through their HCI solution: VMWare VCF on Dell EMC VxRail. Together they offer reduced complexity and cost, as well as accelerated development cycles.
Our SDDC solutions are based on Intel® architecture for the modernized data center. Intel applies advanced capabilities and deep ecosystem relationships to deliver transformative scalability through technologies like:
- Intel® Xeon® Scalable processors for your most demanding workloads in machine learning, AI, analytics and more.
- Intel® Optane™ persistent memory, a new, nonvolatile memory technology offering data persistence.
- Intel® Optane™ SSDs and Intel® 3D NAND SSDs to extend high-performance storage.
Assembling the world’s leading technology partners is key to creating the ideal SDDC solution for your organization.
Explore the advantages of the SDDC platform for yourself
See SDDC at work in our Advanced Technology Center (ATC) or, request one of WWT’s specialized labs and workshops, where we apply a customized software-defined data center solution to your unique environment.