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How the SDDC and the SDN Can Work Better Together

If you think this whole “software-defined” thing is turning networking upside-down, consider what it’s doing to the data center. The data center has always been the last bastion of consistency, a paean to reliability, stability, and all those other good IT goals.

Unfortunately, those traditional goals are being beset by another group of goals – goals that are equally important to the business. These goals include innovation, agility, responsiveness. Call them the 21st century goals.

The data center is right at the … well … center of all these issues. Just as virtualization has wrought havoc with networking, it’s done the same with the data center. At the foundation of so many new options for efficiency – the cloud, virtual data infrastructures, server utilization – sits virtualization. But if you think a phrase like “the network is down” causes havoc, imagine the repercussions when someone says, “the data center is down.” Whole different kind of paperwork there.

All those software-defined things together make up the software-defined data center (SDDC). And both are reputed to be huge markets: by 2019, the SDN is forecast to be $3.6 billion, with SDDC even higher at $5.41 billion. That’s logical, because SDN is really a piece of SDDC.

As cloud consultants Manon Buettner and Liana Antanovich noted in a blog post last month, “Software-defined data centers are considered by many to be the next step in the evolution of virtualization and cloud computing as it provides a solution to support both legacy enterprise applications and new cloud computing services.”

But is the SDDC, as IT Business Edge’s Arthur Cole posited in November, still a work in progress? If the SDDC is just an amalgam of virtualized servers, software-defined storage, and SDN, what’s the issue? I’m not sure I agree with him, then, when he says that “the technology simply does not exist yet” to virtualize “the three pillars of data infrastructure.”

Where he does have a point: none of these technologies are at a point where they can be “cobbled together into one glorious, trouble-free computing environment.” Sure, Facebook, Google, and Symantec are great examples of nascent SDDCs, but they have the staff to work the kinks out of them.

That’s why it’s so important – if you’re moving toward the potential of this completely software-defined world – to think about how all the components are going to work together. Which hypervisors will your various system be using? How well do they interoperate, if at all? How will you manage the various flavors of virtualization across your SDDC?

And just as important, how will your SDN and SDDC capabilities meld beyond the data center? Nuage Networks’ recent announcement around its Virtualized Network Services (VNS) addresses bringing branch office architectures the same kind of flexibility that data centers are on the verge of enjoying.

But no matter what solution you consider, don’t make the decision in a vacuum. There are reasons you’ve standardized on certain virtualization solutions – make sure they support you through all facets of the software-defined journey, from the server and the network up through the entire data center.

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