The changing times are constantly leading to higher information demand. Information is the most important asset for modern organizations today. The advent of smartphones, social media platforms, and other technology-driven services, along with the ever-increasing emphasis of various governments on the digital economy, has led to an exponential growth in data usage and storage. This growth, in turn, has resulted in a larger space of data centers all across the world.
The COVID-19 pandemic is not over yet. In fact, many countries have started experiencing the second or even the third wave of infections. Amidst this, data centers play a vital role in enabling businesses to reach their customers online and continue delivering their services. Even as businesses strategize about a post-COVID world, they realize the fact that incorporating data centers in their scheme of things is inevitable. They have begun realizing the dynamism of what they can achieve with all the data they have access to.
Modern data centers are equipped with the latest functionalities. They have reached a level of technological sophistication that greatly benefits your business. If you are also looking to enhance your business’ IT agility and accelerate its IT service delivery, then a Software-Defined Data Center (SDDC) is what you need.
If you are wondering what is an SDDC and why your business needs it, that is exactly what we will be addressing in this post. So, let’s dive in.
- Compute Virtualization or Server Virtualization
- Storage Virtualization
- Network Virtualization
- Automation, Orchestration, and Management
- Enhanced Agility
- Reduced Costs
- No Hardware Dependency
- Simplified Data Center Management
- Enhanced Scalability
- Automation and Orchestration
What is a Software-Defined Data Center (SDDC)?
A Software-Defined Data Center (SDDC) is an ITaaS (IT-as-a-Service) platform. It caters to an organization’s infrastructure, software, or platform requirements. SDDCs utilize software-driven tools and procedures to provide computing and storage services. Hence, they have been named Software-Defined Data Centers. The highlighting feature of an SDDC is the scalability it offers. Meaning, you can have what you need without worrying about the number of servers required to power your business. Unlike a traditional hardware-based data center, an SDDC operates more like a cloud model.
It is also known as a Virtual Data Center (VDC) because it extends virtualization concepts like abstraction, resource pooling, and automation to all its services and resources. In an SDDC, all the infrastructural elements such as storage, CPU, networking, and security are virtually delivered as a service.
We can understand the concept of an SDDC with the help of an example of a water bottle. A physical water bottle represents a hardware-defined data center and can hold only a specific quantity of water. If you require more water than the capacity of the bottle, you are out of luck.
On the other hand, an SDDC is like a software-defined or virtual water bottle. It can dynamically adjust according to the requirement of water you need. Here, you are not restricted by the physical dimensions of the water bottle.
In a conventional, hardware-defined data center, if your network infrastructure demands exceed its capacity, the system performance suffers. In the worst scenario, you may well end up crashing the whole network. However, an SDDC can quickly scale up the network capabilities to make room for the increased demands.
An SDDC can host storage devices, servers, security devices, and network equipment. It can be hosted on-premise, with a managed service provider (MSP), or in the cloud (public, private, or hosted.)
What are the key components of an SDDC?
In a cloud-hosted SDDC, the host servers remain in the cloud. Therefore, you can create and configure data centers as per your requirements, without needing to configure or host network equipment physically. An SDDC depends largely upon virtualization technologies for abstracting, pooling, managing, and deploying all data center functionalities.
The following are the key components of an SDDC architecture:
Compute Virtualization or Server Virtualization
Compute virtualization is a well-known SDDC component. It abstracts and pools operating systems and applications from physical servers with the help of a hypervisor. This enables administrators to utilize virtual machines (VMs) to run multiple, different operating systems and applications on a single server.
It enables users to develop software-based computer implementations that can be spun up or down, as and when required, without taking much of the provisioning time. Businesses have been long using this virtualization technology to enhance resource utilization and bring down server sprawl.
It is also referred to as Software-Defined Storage (SDS). It pools storage resources by eliminating islands of disconnected storage systems. It is a key component that enhances both scalability and flexibility of an SDDC. Basically, you have a storage pool from which you can provision storage whenever you need, often without requiring to purchase fresh capacity.
Storage virtualization also allows you to dynamically allocate the storage, providing each application the capacity it requires on-demand.
It is also known as Software-Defined Networking (SDN). In a virtualized network, administrators and cloud and networking engineers have a centralized control console. This console enables them to quickly respond to the changing business requirements. It helps them manage and provision networks independently of the underlying physical hardware.
A virtualized network has multiple types of network technologies that are designed to provide more flexibility and agility to the network. This enhanced flexibility and agility support the virtualized storage and server infrastructure of the modern data center. A sophisticated network virtualization solution also facilitates security capabilities to protect networks and isolate workloads.
Automation, Orchestration, and Management
An SDDC utilizes sophisticated automation and management solutions to ensure business-critical functions are working round the clock. This also ensures you need as little IT manpower as possible. Automation and remote management are delivered through a software platform that is accessible from a suitable location, through APIs or web browser access.
Why do you need an SDDC?
There are numerous benefits that SDDCs offer over traditional data centers. Industry experts believe that the inevitability of moving to an SDDC from a conventional data center is just around the corner. With the increasing popularity of IT-as-a-service, this does seem true.
SDDCs benefit your business in many ways. You need an SDDC for your organization because of the following major benefits it offers:
SDDCs offer many advantages that make your business more agile. The enhanced agility is the result of improvements in three key areas of your business – balance, adaptability, and flexibility.
An SDDC consolidates duplicate functions to enhance the overall productivity of your business. This enables you to direct your IT resources to solve other important issues related to your business. This, in turn, enhances the agility of your business.
Moreover, an SDDC helps you increase your Return on Investment (ROI). That way, you have more funds to invest in your long-term business strategies and innovations.
An SDDC costs you less to operate compared to a brick-and-mortar data center. Traditional data centers have operational requirements such as building leases and hardware. They also need round-the-clock employees and security.
Even if you decide to house your data in-house, you need extra IT manpower and expensive hardware equipment. You would also need a lot of time and extra investment that goes into maintaining the infrastructure.
On the other hand, a cloud SDDC charges you on a monthly basis. These charges are affordable. This makes an SDDC accessible to all businesses. Even if you don’t have a big budget for technological innovations, you can still afford an SDDC.
No Hardware Dependency
A cloud SDDC enables you to eliminate proprietary hardware dependency from your system. You may think of it as a self-driving vehicle. Just like a Google car is independent of floor pedals, an SDDC is independent of the command-line interface.
Similar to how you won’t require to learn driving in the future, an SDDC eliminates the requirement for expensive training needed to operate highly specialized vendor hardware. This is because of commoditized hardware in an SDDC.
Moreover, an SDDC frees up all your IT resources to help you focus on adding more value to your business and its bottom line. While you will have to wait for self-driving vehicles to become an absolute reality, you can start using an SDDC today and enjoy all its benefits.
Simplified Data Center Management
Unlike a conventional data center that takes huge efforts, time, and money for successful management, an SDDC allows you to manage everything without breaking a sweat. You can manage an SDDC with just a few clicks or taps. A single dashboard allows you to monitor your data, update your systems, and allocate additional storage resources.
The design of a cloud-based SDDC allows you to scale your functionalities up or down, according to your business requirements. Increasing your storage capacity or adding more functions is fairly simple. Just reach out to your data facility and they will oblige immediately.
Moreover, you won’t be required to pay anything upfront. The pay-as-you-go model allows you to pay only for the services and resources you use. This means, whenever you choose to scale up or down, your monthly service quote will be revised accordingly.
A traditional, brick-and-mortar data center can only be scaled by making additional room for more servers, procure expensive hardware and software, and employing enough manpower to make the transition. This not only costs more but takes a lot of time as well.
SDDCs offer potentially unlimited scalability options. That way, you don’t have to worry about making more room for meeting the demands of your growing business.
Automation and Orchestration
Rather than grappling through complex IT services, you can improve your business workflow by utilizing the repeatable solutions offered by an SDDC. Automation, Orchestration, and abstraction of various resources into software programs are the principal characteristics of an SDDC.
Software, by its nature, is more reliable compared to humans. This is the reason why an SDDC is more responsive and agile in all measures as against the legacy data center.
The Bottom Line
Conventional data centers have long been facing the challenge of finding new methods to offer more computational resources and storage capacity. That too within the restricted physical dimensions of the facility. But, technology, like always, is playing a vital role in transforming data centers in 2021. The advent of virtualization technologies like software-defined compute, network, and storage has made way for a Software-Defined Data Center.
An SDDC delivers sophisticated data center functionalities by utilizing virtualization, abstraction, resource pooling, and automation. That is why more and more businesses are moving towards SDDCs.
If you too want to make your business more agile, productive, and scalable in a cost-efficient manner, then a Software-Defined Data Center is the way forward. Persisting with a hardware-defined data center may prove to be extremely disadvantageous for your business, allowing your counterparts to have a competitive edge over you.