As IT moves to a more software-centric model with the transition to software-defined data centers (SDDCs), there remains an age-old pressure that must be addressed: The reliance on IT personnel for manual tasks such as performance tuning, security and information event management (SIEM), systems monitoring and service delivery.
Next-generation SDDC solutions must be built around infrastructure where automation is embedded into the management platform. This relieves already-burdened IT personnel from “keeping-the-lights-on” functions and allows them to more closely align with business colleagues to drive transformative outcomes.
The need to relieve the day-to-day pressure on IT personnel is particularly important because of ongoing budget challenges. While IT budgets are growing at a rate of about 4.1% in 2016, according to an exclusive TechTarget survey of more than 3,000 IT decision-makers, a good portion of those increases are devoted to areas such as cloud services and software. And while the majority of respondents said they are expecting budget increases for staffing and maintenance in 2016, a surprisingly large proportion said they are anticipating decreases in those two critical areas. That means it is more important than ever to manage your personnel resources strategically. It’s not just about personnel of course: Automation also accelerates time to value, increases availability and improves availability.
The SDDC is a model that leverages automation—as well as orchestration—to simplify provisioning, deployments, scaling and a range of other important functions, such as infrastructure lifecycle management. In SDDCs, the compute, storage and networking infrastructures are virtualized and abstracted. In this environment, a unified management platform provides a centralized single-pane-of-glass view of the entire infrastructure. With the right unified management platform in place, IT personnel can use automation and orchestration to not only simplify and accelerate deployments, but to also reduce the cost and risk inherent in relying upon manual processes.
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It is critical, of course, to deploy a unified management platform that has been designed from the ground up to leverage automation and orchestration. It should also deliver functionality that can be leveraged across the entire SDDC infrastructure: servers, storage and networking.
What are some of the characteristics to look for in a unified management platform that will help you leverage automation and orchestration in your SDDC? Here are a few to consider:
Support for heterogeneous environments: Data centers typically include solutions from a variety of vendors and that is not likely to change even with the shift to an SDDC. Make sure your unified management platform can support solutions from multiple vendors, and be sure to work with vendors that support open environments. This is particularly important in networking, where proprietary architectures have inhibited innovation in the past.
Simplified and embedded automation: Your unified management solution should deploy automated onboarding, configuration, deployment and lifecycle management, with the ability to design your own templates and use prebuilt templates to accelerate deployments and provisioning. The solution should use a streamlined dashboard with a visual design interface to make it simple to identify and fix issues.
Unified management across the entire infrastructure: You want to be able to manage both physical and virtual resources from the same console. The solution should provide a unified view of your compute, networking and storage resources, with dynamic, on-demand provisioning of resources from shared pools. This will make it much simpler and less time consuming to deploy and support private and hybrid cloud environments.
Integration with key virtualization platforms: End-to-end automation of tasks that extends to the virtualization layer is ideal. So it is important that your unified management solution integrates seamlessly with the leading virtualization platforms, specifically VMware vSphere and Microsoft Hyper-V.