The future of IT is all about the digital enterprise, and it’s becoming clear that the biggest enabler of this is to take a software-defined approach. When thinking about where your organisation is heading and putting together a solid business case around the Software Defined Data Centre (SDDC), it’s good to be clear on the benefits you’ll be receiving. Software-defined compute is the first logical step, but beyond that you’ll also be considering software-defined storage and software-defined networking.
The obvious benefits of this software-centric approach are agility, efficiency, and control, but let’s look at a few others in further detail.
Benefit 1: Faster time to value
As the speed of business increases, so too do the demands on your data centres. Responding to queries, opportunities or operational issues in real time is an aspect we see as becoming the norm to enable businesses to gain a competitive advantage. However, being able to respond instantaneously requires systems capable of working at high speeds and that is where automation proves its worth. The aggregated compute, storage and networking services are delivered on-demand by intelligent, policy-driven software. This enables provisioning of resources in minutes, not days or weeks, ensuring critical applications are delivering business value from the moment they’re needed, and the organisation can respond swiftly to business opportunities as they arise.
Benefit 2: Unmatched efficiency and resiliency
With provisioning and management automated by programmable policy-based software, changes are made and workloads balanced (even across private and public clouds) by adjusting the software layer, rather than hardware. Automation also enables configuration consistency, which improves service availability. If a policy is used to define exactly how applications and services are deployed, the risk of human error causing inaccuracies is taken out of the equation. It is automatically created the same way every time, avoiding a configuration mismatch between components. This has the added benefit of making troubleshooting much simpler and more focussed.
Benefit 3: Minimise IT spend
By pooling and intelligently assigning resources, an SDDC is able to maximise the utilisation of the physical infrastructure, extending the value of IT investments. The SDDC makes use of the commodity x86 hardware, cutting capital spend and reducing on-going maintenance expenses compared to proprietary solutions. The net result is a dramatic drop in infrastructure capital expenses of up to 70 percent when combining the savings across the multiple network, storage, compute, and management layers of your SDDC, according to a study by the Teneja Group.
The same spend efficiencies can also be found with operating expenses. By increasing the speed of routine recurring tasks such as infrastructure and workload provisioning, and reducing the ongoing human effort associated with planning, managing and supporting the virtual infrastructure, costs can be reduced by up to 56 percent.
The policy-based automation from a single platform means you can also automatically provision services in an existing or new location. If you provision somewhere else, there isn’t a need to start from scratch and build from the ground up. You just need to declare what you want your infrastructure to look like and that service can automatically be created for the components in the destination.
Benefit 4: Free IT staff for innovation
The management framework within a Software Defined Data Centre eliminates complex management scripts, enabling cloud-scale operations with less manual effort and significant cost savings. With less time spent on routine tasks, IT staff can maximise productivity and focus on more strategic tasks that drive innovation – a key management expectation of the corporate IT function today. According to the same study by the Taneja Group, an SDDC can take tasks that consume 40 percent of an IT administrator’s time annually, and reduce those to less than 1 percent of their time.
SDDC is a natural evolution
SDDC is not a big-bang point solution, but rather an intelligent and evolutionary path that most organisations are already on whether they realise it or not. This framework is focussed on agility, innovation and outcomes, rather than traditional fixed and inflexible architectures. Implementing a data centre with a software-centric approach is ultimately an investment in business agility and business innovation.
 Transforming the Data Center with VMware’s Software-defined Data Center vCloud Suite, 2014, The Taneja Group