Is the future really found in the software-defined data center?

(Editor’s note: contributed blogs like this are part of’s annual sponsorship program. Find out more here. This article was authored by Alex Ryals, director of solution strategy at Avnet Technology Solutions.)

Alex Ryals, director of solution strategy at Avnet Technology Solutions

Alex Ryals, director of solution strategy at Avnet Technology Solutions

For many customers, the Software-Defined Data Center (SDDC) is more about the future than the present. But, as we know with technology, the future comes upon us very quickly. But sometimes, it’s hard to predict if a technology movement will actually stick. So, is everyone really moving to the Software-Defined Data Center or is it just hype?

Many industry experts consider the software-defined data center to be the data center of the future because it enables a service-centric approach to provisioning IT resources and managing applications. Consider this – according to one recent report, the SDDC market will grow at a compound annual rate of 28.8% between 2015 and 2020, growing from $21.78 billion to $77.18 billion by 2020[1].

Hype aside, those are some huge numbers, and there are very real reasons why there is such strong interest in the software-defined model, particularly as IT infrastructures accelerate down the path of virtualization and cloud computing. Among the most compelling reasons are the opportunities it provides to:

  • Control costs and reduce total cost of ownership
  • Reduce IT complexity
  • Increase business agility
  • Support cloud initiatives
  • Improve application performance
  • Increase availability
  • Enable a service-centric approach to IT provisioning

The concept behind the software-defined model is to separate the management functions of various infrastructure components from their operating functions. Think of it as server virtualization applied to every other aspect of the infrastructure, including networks and storage.

When you apply this model to all the infrastructure components, you end up with a software-defined data center, in which all the resources of the IT infrastructure are unified, pooled and abstracted, while managed and orchestrated from a centralized location.

Even if we are looking forward, for systems integrators and solution providers, now is the time to begin talking about the SDDC and, where possible, putting in the necessary components that will form the right foundation for a successful evolution/deployment. One of the interesting things about the SDDC is that it mitigates the need for some of the fiefdoms that have become so much a part of the IT culture over the years. For example, storage and networks are managed together in the SDDC, and many of the functions involved in deploying these solutions become automated.

Questions to Ask When Getting Started

In considering the software-defined data center and the need to evolve to a more modern infrastructure model for the future, what are some of the important considerations for your organization as well as your customers? Here are a few key questions to consider:

  • Which companies/customers are potentially ripe for considering aspects of the software-defined data center today? For example, how far along the virtualization path are they? What are their business needs? How quickly do they want to evolve to a services-centric IT model? What are their internal levels of expertise? What is their comfort level with cloud-based models?
  • How do you work with your customers to define the need for the SDDC, and how do you understand/measure the benefits, both long-term and short-term?
  • What are the ways to help customers evolve to the SDDC without having to rip up everything they have in place?
  • What are the key features and functions to look for in a management platform for the SDDC?
  • What are the typical goals of a company in considering the SDDC, and what role can a systems integrator/solution provider play in helping the company achieve its goals?
  • What types of expertise do you need to develop within your organization? If you don’t have that expertise, where can you get it?

The software-defined data center touches every aspect of an organization’s IT infrastructure – servers, storage, networks and management. In choosing a partner, it is important that systems integrators, VARs and solution providers work with an organization that can offer solutions across all these areas, along with knowledge and expertise in addressing the many challenges facing enterprise IT organizations.

In guiding your customers as well as your own organization to the software-defined data center of the future, work with companies that can share and articulate the vision of what that future should look like. As the world’s leading global enterprise IT solutions distributor, Avnet makes it easier and more affordable to enter and excel in high-growth technology and vertical markets locally and around the world.

[1]Software-Defined Data Center Market Worth $77.18 Billion by 2020,” MarketsandMarkets, March 2015