We may be a long way away from the datacenter vision that VMware calls software defined data center (SDDC) or what Microsoft calls the cloud based data center, but we have arrived at the virtual first data center. The SDDC is the idea that the entire data center is an abstracted concept that is controlled by software. You have the same infrastructure components of as in a physical data center. The concept of the SDDC is that storage, compute and network are all software enabled abstracts. The underlying infrastructure may be services or hardware.
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Not many organizations have the ability to implement a software only data center. This can be for various reasons that range from application requirements, legacy platform support, cost and the maturity of the technology and service offerings. However, one thing has been certain for a few years now. Organizations no longer look to traditional physical solutions first. Most organizations have adopted a virtual first strategy. Some organizations such as in the case of the US government have gone as far to adopt a cloud first initiative.
The virtual first movement may not be as ambitious as the software defined movement, but it has practical impacts on how you approach IT infrastructure. The most obvious example of this is the network. With more virtual network ports than physical ports, most organizations need to consider the impact on network management, capability and tools for the virtual first infrastructure.
The drivers for a virtual first network are a bit different than a physical first network. The portability of enterprise production workloads from one physical switch to another physical switch is a challenge that is much more common in the virtual first data center vs. the physical datacenter. This is just one small example of the challenges that software defined networking solves for the virtual first data center.
Similar challenges exist for the storage infrastructure. A virtual first infrastructure should shape and mold your design and purchasing decisions for your data center.
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