Discovering the key components of the Software-Defined Data Center (Part 1)

(Editor’s note: contributed blogs like this are part of’s annual sponsorship program. Find out more here. This article was authored by Kevin Johnson, vice president and global practice leader for cloud solutions at Avnet Technology Solutions Americas.)

software-defined data centerIn today’s data center, we see a variety of interrelated trends, which, taken together, have the potential to add vast layers of complexity and capability to data centers. Data is no longer confined to one’s own data center, and compute power has no bounds or boundaries…it can be available precisely when, where, and how it’s needed. The applications residing on this compute power are even beginning to redefine the business processes themselves.

Today, the proliferation of virtualization and cloud computing are becoming the new data center norm with at least 70 percent of x86 workloads that are available to be virtualized now virtualized, according to Gartner1. Additionally, cloud and cloud-related initiatives are (still) the most important project for the majority of IT departments today2 with cloud-related tech spending by businesses expected to triple from 2011 to 2017, reaching more than $235 billion3.

With that said, the changes taking place within the data center are so profound that they are being characterized as a new era in computing. For systems integrators, value-added resellers and other solution providers, it’s critical to develop an understanding of these changes, and it’s equally important to understand at the enterprise level in order to help to guide customers through this evolution. Remember, in the complexity and new capability of emerging technologies live the highest revenue opportunities for our partner community. This includes being informed about the trends and technologies that are shaping the software-defined data center (SDDC) and are a primary key to a successful business.

The concepts behind the SDDC have their roots in the top market drivers of server virtualization, cloud, and anything-as-a-service computing models. In fact, it’s worth noting that VMware is the originator of the SDDC approach and was the first to spot the need for full data center abstraction and, thus, they coined the term “Software-Defined Data Center.” This enterprise-level need to abstract their full compute and network tier has been the catalyst for the SDDC, but it is also the largest gap in the current market as everyone seeks the silver bullet of a “common toolset.” Experts suggest that service providers have been able to show real-world proof that the data center could be abstracted into much smaller units that could then be treated as virtual pieces of infrastructure technology, configured by software.

In breaking down the key solution components of the SDDC, it’s useful for enterprises and service providers to consider two key aspects:

  • Technologies: Every infrastructure component of the data center should be addressed in order to build a next-generation SDDC. This means the servers, networks and storage solutions all should be virtualized, and the virtualization/management platforms have to be combined so that key functions can be centrally managed, secured and orchestrated.
  • Functions: The main functions of the SDDC involve infrastructure component pooling self-service request automation, pooled public and private resources; SLAs; containerizing applications, abstracting management; SaaS solutions to reduce legacy applications; creating automated processes for provisioning, deployment and other activities; and setting up a central location to orchestrate all resources. SDDC management also should include a business logic layer and portal layer to translate application requirements, service-level agreements, policies and manage workload compute cost considerations.

In the next few years, the SDDC will emerge as a key contributor to the next generation of IT projects. Companies will no longer use “if” when discussing their transformation to a fully software-defined data center but will, instead, like with the cloud in years 2011-2015, start scrambling to understand “how” and “when.” As trusted advisors and partners in this ecosystem, we should be ready to answer the inevitable calls for information and implementation services. Avnet can assist with any needs you may have – from education or enablement to hardware and software purchasing with high-value services.

Avnet is preparing companies for next-generation technology platforms enabled by cloud, social, mobile and big data innovations. Watch one of our most popular webinars, “Move Your Data Center to the Cloud in 100 Days or Less” and discover how Avnet can help with those challenges.

  1. “Magic Quadrant for x86 Server Virtualization Infrastructure,” Gartner, July 2, 2014.
  2. “ComputerWorld’s 2015 Forecast…,” Forbes, Nov 26, 2014.
  3. “Roundup of Cloud Computing Forecasts and Market Estimates, 2014,” Forbes, March 14, 2014.