Managing the Changing IT Landscape: Software-Defined Infrastructure

Gartner recently released its 2014 top ten strategic technologies with software-defined anything (SDx) as one of the major disruptive technologies to watch. Why? Because four powerful trends—social, mobile, cloud, and information—are driving demand for a programmable infrastructure that automates the data center and executes at hyperscale.

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In a recent blog, I described software-defined networking (SDN) as a potential cure for network pains, providing a way to automate and dynamically manage network traffic for greater efficiency and better resource utilization. The key to SDN is the separation of network control and decision making from the hardware, automation of management tasks, and the pooling of network resources.

SDN provides the roots for SDI. By applying this same principle, data centers can also use a programmable approach to infrastructure overall, automating and orchestrating memory, compute, storage, security, and energy requirements. Software-defined infrastructure (SDI)—also referred to as software-defined data center (SDDC) or software-led infrastructure—promises to expand software control to all areas of the data center by dynamically and efficiently adapting to changing workload requirements from across the organization.

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New architectures demand innovation

The IT imperative for SDI comes from the business. Demands for more flexible architectures to support the rapidly changing and dynamic needs of cloud computing, enterprise mobility, big data, and social computing are leading the way. Traditional IT provisioning and resource management tools are more labor intensive and simply can’t cope efficiently with the heavier performance demands of today’s applications and data-driven workloads. Plus, data center infrastructure is increasingly heterogeneous and therefore more complex to manage, increasing IT operational costs.

SDI has the potential to overcome these challenges by delivering a new way to systematically automate relevant IT processes. SDI promises to extend the agility and efficiency benefits of cloud computing under a single management entity across all data center components. I believe SDI will be a positively disruptive force because in order to achieve these benefits, a company’s enterprise infrastructure will need to be re-evaluated from architecture to engineering to operations.

SDI adoption expected to grow quickly

Analysts from Research and Markets estimate the global SDI market at $396.1 million dollars this year.  However, by 2018, market growth is projected to reach $5.41 billion. That’s a 13 times increase over the next five years, driven in large part by the increasing demand for cloud computing. IT adoption is in the early stages, with new vendors and solutions emerging now. I’m looking forward to watching the promise of SDI unfold. Intel executive Diane Bryant recently discussed Intel’s commitment to re-architecting the data center, pinpointing SDI as a strategic foundation. Check out our SDI infographic for an overview on this technology.



Chris Peters is a business strategist with more than 21 years of experience ranging from Information Technology, manufacturing, supply chain, nuclear power and consumer products.

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