The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated cloud adoption as a means of simplifying remote access to applications and services. Monies that would have been spent on extending maintenance and support on older gear can be redirected as an investment into the start of the software-defined data center (SDDC) journey. Timing is important here to maximize the return of investment of existing pre-paid maintenance contracts. Gartner expects the market for public cloud services to grow 6.3 percent in 2020, even as the overall IT market has contracted due to the economic downturn.

But work-from-home models have not changed the fact that some IT workloads need to remain onsite. IT teams must continue to operate and maintain the corporate data center, often while working remotely themselves. This has renewed interest in the software-defined data center, which enables centralized management and policy-based automation of the data center environment.

Benefits of the SDDC

VMware coined the term “software-defined data center” in 2012 to describe a model in which all data center components are virtualized. Because control is abstracted from hardware, compute, storage, networking and security can be delivered via software. This makes it possible to automate the provisioning, configuration and management of data center resources according to business needs.
Proponents view the SDDC as the natural next step for virtualization, bringing the benefits of server virtualization to the entire data center. Capital expenses can be reduced as the SDDC optimizes resource utilization and allows for the use of commodity x86 hardware. The SDDC accelerates the deployment of new applications and services and enables users to quickly provision resources through a self-service platform.

The entire IT infrastructure becomes more resilient and efficient, and can be managed holistically instead of in silos. Administrators gain greater visibility across the IT environment so they can optimize resources and spot security vulnerabilities.

The SDDC also makes it possible to better align IT with business processes and objectives. It facilitates data center modernization and enables greater architectural and operational consistency between the on-premises environment and public clouds. The ability to deliver applications with greater speed and agility supports digital transformation initiatives and enables IT to respond to changing business and market demands.

Making the Transition

That’s not to suggest that the transition to the SDDC is easy. It requires fundamental changes to IT infrastructure, processes and culture, and many IT organizations are resistant to change of this magnitude. The lack of in-house expertise contributes to this resistance. Management may also be reluctant to change IT operations due to perceived business risk.

However, the shift to the SDDC may not be that big of a leap. Every organization has implemented server virtualization, and many have a highly virtualized compute environment. Storage virtualization isn’t as common, but has seen growing adoption thanks to hyperconverged infrastructure. Network virtualization is often the missing component, but a new report from research firm Information Services Group finds that organizations are beginning to move toward software-defined networking to reduce costs, increase agility and aid in cloud migrations.

Hardware Refresh cycles also play an important role in the transition to a software defined data center. Technologent has deep expertise in support and maintenance analysis. We can help determine the optimal timeframe to begin a transition.

Organizations should invest in training and certifications so that IT staff can become more comfortable with SDDC concepts and technologies. Partnering with a qualified IT solutions provider such as Technologent can provide access to needed expertise in developing a SDDC strategy and evaluating solutions.

The shift to the SDDC is moving forward as organizations seek to improve IT management efficiency and business agility in a remote work environment. While the SDDC won’t become mainstream overnight, organizations should become better educated about the SDDC and begin evaluating vendor solutions.