According to VMware, Software-Defined Data Center Leads to Software-Defined Enterprise

During the past several years, I’ve researched the data center market and talked to many people involved in the industry. When I started with that market, I was surprised that many people in it assumed that I came from Facility, even though I came from IT. At many data center conferences, the majority of the participants were from Facility. The main interests of Facility folks are cooling and power, and IT folks are more or less guests in their house.

This began to change as cloud entered the mainstream. Even Facility folks started to talk about cloud. This is great, but it is rare to find people who know both areas equally well. In other words, data center people focus on data centers and do not see how they relate to cloud. Conversely, cloud people’s major focus is on cloud and they pay little attention to how it is implemented in data centers.

So far, I’ve met a very few people whose expertise encompasses both data centers and cloud. Such people include Tim Crawford, Mark Thiele and Greg Ness.

Software-Defined Data Center

The concept of the software-defined data center (SDDC) was first coined in 2012 by the former CTO of VMware, Steve Herrod, who is currently managing director of General Catalyst Partners.

According to VMware:

“SDDC is the ideal architecture for private, public, and hybrid clouds. Pioneered by VMware and recognized by the industry and analysts alike, SDDC extends the virtualization concepts you know— abstraction, pooling and automation — to all data center resources and services. Components of the SDDC can be implemented together, or in phases:

·         Compute virtualization, network virtualization and software-defined storage deliver abstraction, pooling and automation of the compute, network, and storage infrastructure services.

·         Automated management delivers a framework for policy-based management of data center application and services.

·        In a software-defined data center, policy-driven automation enables provisioning and ongoing management of logical compute, storage and network services. The result is unprecedented IT agility and efficiency, with flexibility to support today and tomorrow’s hardware and applications.”

Actually, I think we need also to consider power, cooling, space, buildings, and other things to make this a complete model. See my blogs on software-defined power (here and here.) You can check out my software-defined cooling blog here. What about space and buildings? Well, it is probably not possible to dynamically allocate space and buildings on demand.

Software-Defined Enterprise

Although Herrod left VMware, VMware adopted this concept and expanded it further as software-defined enterprise.

VMware software-defined enterprise vision

Tony Scott’s presentation

Recently, I had a chance to attend a Northern California 7×24 Exchange Chapter meeting at VMware. Tony Scott, CIO of VMware, gave a talk on the software-defined enterprise. The subjects of software-defined data center and software-defined enterprise are complex, and I do not intend to cover them in detail. Those who want to dig into them should refer to VMware sites, such as here and here. Or if you are in a hurry to pick up a quick overview, try this video (under seven minutes; dated May 2014) by Pat Gelsinger, VMware’s CEO. Some of the slides in Scott’s presentation are shown in Gelsinger’s video.


Tony Scott, CIO, VMware

Scott started by presenting VMware’s solution on networking virtualization, called NSX, which was productized after the Nicira acquisition by VMware. See the video for the NSX overview, which was given here. Computing and storage virtualization were well ahead of network virtualization. With the advent of the software-defined network, three major elements of a data center (compute, storage, and network) can be defined via software, leading to the software-defined data center and eventually to the software-defined enterprise.

The ultimate goal of SDDC is IT as a service (ITaaS), as shown in the following slide.

Progression of the software-defined enterprise

VMware software-defined enterprise foundation

The benefits of the software-defined enterprise are many. It:

  • Is 37% more responsive to IT requests
  • Saves 30% of both operations and development staff time
  • Increases revenues 26% through new applications and IT services
  • Invests 50% of budgets in innovation
  • Can secure two-thirds more budget than less mature counterparts

(Source: VMware Journey Benchmark Survey, 4th Wave 2013)

Finally, Tony’s talk was very interesting and contained some material that had no direct relevance to the main topic. Those subjects that dealt with data centers were very entertaining. Among such topics, I cover only the security issue of cloud computing here. Cloud security includes several aspects, but Scott talked about one, external attacks by hackers and how good commercial cloud service providers are dealing with that problem.

Scott was CIO at Microsoft before, where more than 1 million different individuals attacked Microsoft data centers daily. He said he and his team got very good at fending off such attacks. If you were to run your own and protect your own data centers, you would need sophisticated expertise, people, technologies, and tools, and worse yet, you would need to keep up with them, which would cost you a bundle. This was very convincing.

Zen Kishimoto

About Zen Kishimoto

Seasoned research and technology executive with various functional expertise, including roles in analyst, writer, CTO, VP Engineering, general management, sales, and marketing in diverse high-tech and cleantech industry segments, including software, mobile embedded systems, Web technologies, and networking. Current focus and expertise are in the area of the IT application to energy, such as smart grid, green IT, building/data center energy efficiency, and cloud computing.

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