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Powering the Global Enterprise: How Software-Defined Data Centers Will Transform IT

  • October 2013
  • 10 pages
  • Frost & Sullivan
Report ID: 1862622

Summary

Table of Contents

In this paper, Frost & Sullivan examines the business landscape that is driving technology evolution. We define SDDC, and examine critical components that enable success. We recommend what providers must do to capture the market and promote enterprise adoption of the SDDC. Finally, we review the SDDC capabilities of leading providers in the market, and evaluate their offerings and potential for success.

Introduction

The evolution of IT has created a cyclical, self-imposed challenge. IT-enabled capabilities, from collaboration and BYOD to social business, have allowed enterprises to do business globally and around-the-clock, enhancing every department from logistics to the C-suite. These improvements, along with increasingly interdependent economic systems, have helped create global competition. With this pressure to compete, businesses turn back to IT for help in driving top-line business results.

IT must continually respond to this pressure by driving innovation and efficiency through the services it provides, despite budgets that are stagnant, staff that is comfortable working in outdated conditions, and IT leaders that have little time, resource or expertise to educate teams about something new. Old modes of configuring and working in technology are not sustainable in light of current—and future—demands. Technology must be in a constant state of improvement to meet business needs.

Fortunately, a new technology model has emerged that is enabling business results. The software-defined data center, or SDDC, follows virtualization and cloud computing in IT’s technology evolution. By enabling all data center components to be defined in software, delivered as a service, and managed by a robust orchestration platform, SDDC allows IT to optimize the infrastructure, and scale services as needed. Its value lies in the ability to deliver applications and data to users quickly, efficiently, and effectively, while reducing the overall data center footprint. Application and service optimization and delivery are at the heart of the SDDC’s value proposition.

Some providers claim that simply extending virtualization beyond computing resources constitutes SDDC deployment. While extension of virtualization does start an enterprise down the SDDC path, what makes an SDDC successful are the management and orchestration capabilities that it offers. Successful providers will offer open management platforms that allow IT to manage multiple clouds, and optimize application delivery through a single user interface.

In this paper, Frost & Sullivan examines the business landscape that is driving technology evolution. We define SDDC, and examine critical components that enable success. We recommend what providers must do to capture the market and promote enterprise adoption of the SDDC. Finally, we review the SDDC capabilities of leading providers in the market, and evaluate their offerings and potential for success.

Modern Business Demands Turn IT on its Head

The competitive global economy forces businesses to face several challenging trends that require IT to respond. These business trends include:
• 24 x 7 x 365 business – The concept of the workday is becoming obsolete, as customers and employees expect to do business around the clock. This means that IT must keep IT infrastructure, applications and services running at peak efficiency, with minimal interruption or downtime.
• Geographically dispersed teams, partners, and customers – Stakeholders expect to work from anywhere, via any device (sometimes even their own personal unit) and network.

This places the burden on IT to support mobile applications from different operating systems, while ensuring that application performance remains consistent.
• Social business – Employees, partners, and even customers expect to interact online, at any time that a colleague is available. IT enables this with improved collaboration and communications tools like unified communication, presence, and video conferencing.
• Tech-savvy employees – As employees experience new types of consumer technology, their expectations about how technology should be accessed and used increases. This “consumerization of IT” drives IT to provide user-friendly solutions, while managing security, privacy and regulatory compliance.
• Hypercompetitive global markets – As businesses seek to increase agility and drive out costs, IT is pressured to respond quickly to increasingly urgent line of business needs.


Above all, technology is expected to support the following business drivers:
• Drive new revenue
• Make the business more competitive
• Improve the costs of the business
• Make employees more productive


In spite of heightened demands, IT budgets have remained largely stagnant in the past five years. In a May 2013 Frost & Sullivan survey of IT decision makers, more than half of enterprises surveyed expected their budgets to remain the same in the coming year.2 Capital expenditures face the heaviest constraints, but operating budgets are also under increased scrutiny. This situation, whereby business needs increase and IT rises to the challenge without a commensurate increase in resources, is unsustainable.

Technology Evolution Meets Escalating Needs

In response to the escalating business demands, some enterprise IT departments are beginning to recognize the need to transform themselves from the traditional, labor- and capital-intensive consumer of resources into a flexible, fast, and agile driver of revenue and productivity.

Newer technologies, such as virtualization and cloud computing, are meeting many of today’s demands, but technology must continue to evolve. When IT deploys a fully scalable server infrastructure, but must manually configure the other IT components in order to deploy an app or add capacity, time and money are at stake. Such processes can add weeks to deployments, making rapid spin-up of a VM a moot point. In an agile, on-demand world, business requires that all solution components are ready to go at once.

In an SDDC, a powerful orchestration platform synchronizes all the components according to pre-set policies and configurations. When the enterprise must add or grow an app, every component—including the network, the servers, the storage, and services such as security—is available to be deployed based on specific policies. The SDDC allows quick deployment with minimal errors, and ensures security, compliance and resource optimization.

SDDC Defined

An SDDC virtualizes and manages the data center environment. In an SDDC, all components of the data center are virtualized, such as:
• computing
• storage
• network
• security
• availability


Overlaying these virtualized elements is a management platform that automates many of the daily management tasks of the environment, including:
• provisioning
• lifecycle management
• policy-based IT governance


Today, many providers offer à la carte services that comprise a “do-it-yourself” SDDC; only a very few are offering a complete solution. Businesses can choose virtualization of different aspects of the data center from providers, as well as automation and orchestration platforms. Many providers have developed or are moving towards management platforms that can manage a hybrid environment, therefore managing virtualized services from a variety of other providers.

At its core, the goal of SDDC is to optimize application and service deployment, enabling IT to more quickly and efficiently provision new applications and services, while maintaining optimum levels of security and compliance. Ongoing, the SDDC also offers stronger lifecycle management, thanks to automation and orchestration.

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