Discovering the key components of the software-defined data center (Part 2)

(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.)

In part one of this blog, I discussed the key solution components of the software-defined data center (SDDC) and the evolution that enables business agility, operational maturity and automation. In part two, we will take a deeper look at the various areas of the SDDC that support the growing trends of agile software development and factory-like manufacturing, as well as the eventual automation of software development – all in support of the emerging DevOps space, where the SDDC will be a required component system, dynamically determining where and how to host the developed applications.

Here’s a more detailed breakdown of each area:

Applications: Legacy applications and new services are probably the biggest driver of SDDC. Basically, the SDDC is the platform that places containers, apps and workloads using a GUI and “application rationalization” and drives the categorization of apps into SaaS service solutions or public/private workloads. The inventory, categorization and rationalization of apps is the largest effort in the SDDC journey, when the SDDC is to be used to define the next-generation data center for the enterprise.

Servers, Storage: Servers and storage devices are probably the easiest aspect of the SDDC to understand and deploy. Basically, the SDDC is an extension of the virtualized server environment, so you just need the servers and storage to be virtualized. There are additional features you can consider for next-generation servers – security, management, number of cores, etc. – however, the bottom line for servers is that they have to be in a virtualized environment to achieve the benefits of dynamic/utility computing.

Networks: To make the SDDC a reality, it will be necessary to evolve part of the network fabric to a virtual network infrastructure using software-defined networking (SDN). The fundamental construct of SDN is that the network control function is separated from the forwarding function. Dynamic network programmability and configuration of virtualized network services and mass-configuration of the SDN network is supported by Network Function Virtualization (NFV). SDN, when combined with NFV, enables a new network services design and configuration capability that complements a legacy network in a highly flexible SDDC-enabled environment.

Any one of these approaches to SDN will work well in the SDDC. The other important considerations in networking will be upgrading the overall networking infrastructure with higher-speed Ethernet and Ethernet fabrics, and upgrading to high-speed private network connections to the public cloud provider. Public cloud providers are emerging as secure gateways to the SaaS application providers. The use of these technologies will help to overcome any performance limitations of legacy networks in highly virtualized environments.

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.

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