Going Step by Step: How to Evolve to a Software-Defined Data Center

The software-defined data center (SDDC) offers IT organizations the opportunity to continue down the path of virtualization to envision—and deploy—infrastructures in which all resources are unified, abstracted, pooled and centrally orchestrated.

SDDCs provide big opportunities to increase agility and efficiency, while enabling a more service-centric approach to delivering IT resources. The SDDC model is just scratching the surface of its vast potential: The market is expected to grow from $396.1 million in 2013 to $5.41 billion in 2018, a compound annual growth rate of nearly 70%.1

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The challenge for IT is how to get there from here—how to move toward the software-defined data center of the future without having to tear up and rip apart the legacy data center of the present.

This is where a building-block approach using flexible converged infrastructure platforms can provide a bridge from traditional infrastructure to a next-generation infrastructure. What do we mean by a building-block approach, and how can you achieve it?

The concept behind this approach is that IT should be able to take modular and scalable packages of converged resources and apply them to specific workloads. This way IT can tailor the infrastructure precisely, with the right amount of power, storage and connectivity to meet the needs of each workload. This enables IT to quickly deploy these building blocks of compute resources to respond to the needs of the organization—modularly building the features and functionality of the SDDC on a workload-by-workload basis, without having to make any other changes to the legacy infrastructure already in place.

Achieving this new way of deploying converged resources requires an architectural approach designed specifically to be modular, scalable and flexible. The first architecture of this kind is the Dell PowerEdge converged infrastructure.

The Dell PowerEdge architecture is based on a modular “building-block” concept that is realized through the PowerEdge chassis. This is a 2U rack-based converged computing platform that houses flexible blocks of server, storage and networking resources, while providing shared power, I/O and management within the chassis itself.

Workload optimization is a key tenet in the design of the PowerEdge architecture. By using modular building blocks of compute resources, along with a wide range of components available, IT can quickly size and deploy infrastructure solutions that fit the needs of respective workloads.

Infrastructure can be scaled quickly by simply adding more blocks. And because these are PowerEdge servers, IT can also take advantage of innovative features of Dell’s latest generation of technologies—including high-performance Express Flash NVMe PCIe SSDs and application-accelerating Fluid Cache for SAN.

One of the major differences between this new architectural approach to converged infrastructure versus earlier solutions is that the PowerEdge architecture is scalable and customizable, as opposed to the “one size fits all” nature of other solutions. Another significant advantage is the utilization of the Dell OpenManage management platform, which brings all of its industry-leading systems management capabilities to the converged infrastructure platform

Overall, the Dell PowerEdge architecture brings more choice and less complexity to IT by:

  • Simplifying the building and managing of data centers and private clouds with faster, automated enterprise-wide deployments.

  • Enabling a choice of management styles—rack or blade at the server, chassis or rack level.

  • Moving to an SDDC approach to data center design with minimal disruption to existing operations, by easily and rapidly scaling the resources required by workloads.

  • Maximizing IT infrastructure density and utilizing resources more efficiently through finer granularity of resources.

  • Lowering networking costs and reducing cabling complexity by consolidating connectivity by an 8-to-1 ratio with I/O aggregators.

As virtualization and cloud computing continue to expand, it is becoming increasingly clear that the data center of the future will be software-defined. With solutions like PowerEdge, organizations can evolve on their own terms, at their own pace, while still maximizing choice and value all along the way.

With a new architectural approach to converged infrastructure IT can safely move down the path to SDDC by putting in today’s building blocks to serve as the foundation for tomorrow’s data center.

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1Software Defined Data Center Market Worth $5.41 Billion By 2018,” Markets and Markets, August 2013