Over the last eight years at the helm of ViFX and the cutting-edge of virtualisation, I have watched with interest as the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle have come together: compute, storage, network, infrastructure automation, and BUDR capability. The underlying principles of virtualisation (abstraction and software control) have provided significant functional benefit. We can now do things that were impossible a few years ago, and in many ways, small parts of the jigsaw have been built.
So is the jigsaw complete? The software defined data centre brings many disparate components together in a well thought out, effective model to deliver IT outcomes in ways and at speeds simply not possible previously.
Coming from a VMware specialist background, we see how the current level of VMware technology has enabled the SDDC concept to come into being. For our clients with a significant investment in the technology, the benefits are substantial:
- Flexible infrastructure deployment
- Consistent environments across software lifecycle stages
- Rapid, agile reconfigurations across storage, compute and network
- Resilient, highly available platforms
- Automated deployment both inside and outside the firewall
- Self-service provisioning
- Cost transparency and intelligence
They also get the advantage of creating a platform where the existing investment can support exploring new technologies such as OpenStack or containerisation.
In our view (with the obvious acknowledgement of our bias), for large scale organisations, with a heavy investment in a VMware-based stack (along with the capability and experience in that stack), the VMware based SDDC model is the most sensible umbrella strategy for guiding IT architectural decisions. It is a great platform and for most organisations it is entirely logical.
But is SDDC the final word? Of course not. A decade ago, private, server-based architecture was the default IT model for almost all organisations. However, in the last decade, the cloud paradigm, and more particularly “born in the cloud” businesses have shown a totally new way of delivering IT and achieving business outcomes. Outcomes based on API driven, open software, cloud-based infrastructure and new development culture and methodologies. Their pace, disruption, innovation and agility leave traditional enterprise scale organisations gasping for breath.
Gartner use the useful designation “bimodal IT” to describe this tension. Mode 1 refers to traditional systems; systems of record and transactional systems. They are systems that change slowly, focus on stability and are controlled by process. Mode 1 systems are the IT backbone of manufacturing, telco, utilities, banking, finance, insurance - almost all enterprise organisations.
Mode 2 describes the new IT. New systems; systems of engagement and innovation. Mode 2 systems are the backbone of new business models driving new ways of interacting with staff and customers, and new ways of reaching audiences.
The challenge for New Zealand’s large scale organisations (and others of course), is to be able to deliver both mode 1 and mode 2 reliably, quickly, cost effectively, and at the same time. Enterprise development teams can learn from the likes of Netflix, Uber, and Evernote, or in New Zealand, Flick Electric, Eroad or Raygun (and lots more!)
In this IT transformation that many enterprises are now deeply entrenched in, there is no way that SDDC is the final version of IT or the end of their journey. However, on the way to the Software Defined Enterprise (SDE), what it does provide is a sensible, effective method of delivering bimodal IT; an approach that delivers core systems reliably, resiliently and cost effectively, while new systems and new functions are delivered quickly and flexibly (and reliably, resiliently and cost effectively!)
Do you agree? What are your challenges and successes in delivering bimodal IT?