Software Defined Datacenter is a Game Changer

At VMworld, VMware will be blasting the world with its Software Defined Datacenter (SDDC) story. While VMware is at the center of the Software Defined Datacenter story, the VMware Software Defined Datacenter offering could put VMware at the Center of the IT Universe. The Software Defined Datacenter story remind me a lot of VMware initial virtualization story, where it had disrupted & changed the IT world for ever.

It was funny how the world play it self again, as I remember how much resistance VMware had initially of the Servers hardware vendors who were so worried that this new way of Compute  (Virtualization) could make them irrelevant. The benefits of Virtualization was unstoppable that it spread like fire that other vendors had to try to book their seat as quickly as possible to benefit of this technology change as they can not resist it any more. The nice part of the story virtualization end up pushing all these hardware vendors to innovate which has benefited both customers as well the different hardware vendors.

I am already seeing things shaping up in the same way at the moment with SDDC, as it will not just reshape compute, but it will extend to network & storage. Yes, VMware in VMworld will be showing the world how to Virtualize not only your Compute but your Network & Storage as well. No wonder many networking and storage vendors are worried and many resistance blast can be shown all over the place in no time, where many vendors who still resisting SDDC has went and acquired SDDC Solutions companies in millions if not billions of dollars to catch up. I can see SDDC disrupting how things are currently being done in the IT World for ever. The great part about the new VMware Software Defined Datacenter offering that like Virtualization while being disruptive to the IT industry it is non disruptive to the end users and customers operations. Customers will not have to rip & replace their current infrastructure to benefit of SDDC. They can utilize VMware SDDC offering while maintaining the same current infrastructure, but extend its capabilities using VMware Software. I will try below to answer few of the questions that I can imagine many of my readers will have as they start hearing more and more about SDDC.

What is SDDC?

Software Defined Datacenter (SDDC) is a datacenter where all infrastructure is virtualized and delivered as a service. It is basically taking the same concept of Server Virtualization that VMware customers have been enjoying for years and applying it to not only the compute layer of your Datacenter but to Network and Storage.


Why should I care about Software Defined Datacenter (SDDC)?

Software Defined Datacenter at VMworld

In today market, time to market can make the difference between a failing and succeeding business. This has put a huge pressure on IT to provide the most agile infrastructure that they can provide to the business, else for the business to succeed they might have to find out a different way to get what they need in a more agile way. While Server Virtualization and the initial wave of Cloud Computing has made deploying VMs in no time possible, in reality the process of getting an application deployed and ready for production is much slower than that. While the virtual infrastructure admin can provision VMs in minutes if not seconds, the request will require a much more manual process and planning on the network & storage team  which can delay the process by days if not months.

That dependency on the storage/network infrastructure hardware and lengthy manual provisioning process has invoked the idea at VMware, why can not we repeat what we have done for Compute to Storage and Network. This has lead to VMware introducing Software Defined Networking & Software Defined Storage which when combined with Server Virtualization give you the main building blocks for Software Defined Datacenter. Let’s look at a high level at both Software Defined Storage & Software Defined Networking, why they make sense & why VMware is a great candidate for leading the revolution in both arena.

Software Defined Storage (SDS)

Today when the virtual admin want extra storage to place VMs, he will have to approach the Storage admin which in turn will have to do quite a bit of manual work to figure out which Array offer the right level of service to the requested VM & which one has the capacity required and other manual tasks before he return back to the virtualization admin with the requested LUNs and provide him with the LUN IDs and so on. Things will even get more messy at a larger sites where they have different storage arrays by different vendors where such request can take days if not weeks to complete. This does blend well with the new self service model, as if IT Can not extend their capacity and being able to provision VMs on demand in no time it will result in unhappy end user which can lead to the business searching for an alternative to their slow IT department. Would not it be nice if this full process can be fully automated and managed by control policies.  Now the end user will be able to request the VM based on the type of SLA he requires & storage will be provisioned and added as required while abstracting all the physical information such as which array or even storage box the disk is being provided from. It is more of taking the brain of the storage arrays and implementing it into the software, which will help break the laws of physics as its not physical any more and now you can achieve a non comparable agility!

Software Defined Network

In most datacenters I have been to, network provisioning is the slowest step in the process. When ever you are deploying a new application the network team will have to create its proper VLANs, Access Lists, Firewall Rules, Configure load balancer and the list go on and on.  With all of these being manual processes that is labor intensive as they need to be implemented and propagated carefully across the full network structure it usually take days if not weeks to deploy the required networks as a part of any application deployment where the end user will have just to wait impatiently during the process although his VMs could have been provisioned already within minutes of the time requested. Would not be great to be able to wave all this manual process, & have a smarter software controller that can automate such changes and move the process from days or weeks to a matter of minutes?

This is not all what Software Defined Network (SDN) can offer, but think of your current virtual environment today where all traffic that need to be routed or firewalled have to travel to upstream routers or firewalls loading up your oversubscribed uplinks and physical networks while you might have both VMs that needed to speak to each others sitting right beside each other on the same host. Would not be nice if you could have such firewalling & routing functionality distributed across the virtual switches as a part of the hypervisor where traffic does not need to traverse uplinks and clunk your network to be firewalled, routed, or load balanced. Software Defined Network as currently being introduced by VMware could do that for you. It could actually help you eliminate many of your network bottlenecks by replacing it by a distributed network switches, routers, firewalls, & load balancers while allowing you to control it from a totally centralized location & even further automate the deployment of your network when integrated with VMware vCloud Suite.

If you have any doubt of how can you trust VMware with your network being the new kid around the block when it comes to networking, the answer that more than likely you have already have done so. Actually VMware might have been already your largest network provider without even you being aware of it. We have already got to a stage where there is more virtual network ports in our world than physical network ports. If you are like most VMware customers who are using VMware Standard or Distributed virtual switches, then there is a big chance that you already have more virtual network ports in your environment than physical switch ports. The main reasons most people does not realize that is most of these virtual switches have not required much if any maintenance in comparison with their physical counter part as well the reduced cost per port. I know this might be quite shocking news at first glance, but as you can see VMware got more than it take to help you move with the right Software Defined Network Solution.

SDN: Virtual Network Ports exceed physical ports

I can see some Storage & Network vendors panicking initially, but just as with Server Virtualization they could highly benefit of this new innovations in the long run. As VMware is not trying to replace these vendors in the datacenter, their hardware will always be required as Software does not run on Software & will always require hardware to run on it and VMware is not into the hardware business as far as I know. On the other hand, what VMware is working on is to revolution how these services are being managed and provisioned in a manner that fit much better in a modern IT environment that require self service & highest level of agility possible.

At last, while VMware is currently having three focus area Hybrid Cloud, End User Computing, & Software Defined Datacenter it is important to notice that only Software Defined Datacenter is at the core of all of the three. If you are building a Cloud or End User Computing you will still need to build the best infrastructure you can get your hands on where Software Defined Datacenter will revolution how you build that infrastructure. If you are attending VMworld, I would highly recommend you join as many Software Defined Datacenter, Software Defined Network, Software Defined Storage, NSX, & vSAN sessions as you can. If you are not attending, then make sure you start catching up on the topic at VMware blog & on my blog as I am planning to do my best to cover as many of these as possible in the upcoming few days.

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