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Software defined data centres – Evolution, not revolution

16 Apr 2014

Are SDDCs just a rebadge of an old concept? Bradley Borrows, Microsoft NZ Server and Tools Business Group lead, argues the case and looks at the challenges for resellers.

Business customers are getting bombarded every day by cloud providers offering their services to try, evaluate and purchase.

Public cloud providers like Microsoft, Amazon and Google are making it cheap and simple for businesses to consume services that are built around the concept of the software defined data centre (SDDC).

But how exactly are today’s SDDC’s defined, and are they actually something new, or just a ‘rebadge’ of a 20-year old concept?

Wikipedia defines a SDDC as 'a vision for IT infrastructure that extends virtualisation concepts such as abstraction, pooling and automation to all of the data centre's resources and services to achieve IT as a service'.

That’s a lot of big words, but is this concept really that new? I presented this question informally to a small group of friends and colleagues in my network and the general feeling was ‘No’.

If you have been in the IT industry for a while (15+ years) then you will remember the old days of mainframes and using shared computing power and storage to achieve tasks via the green screen monitors that were dominant at the time.

This was all offered as a 'service' to users. Whilst not as advanced as today’s offerings, it can be seen as a precursor to the modern SDDC. What is new is the software and tools that allow us to implement or use these services.

We also have a lot more choice in who provides them, which has driven prices down to the equivalent cost of a Big Mac on a per hour cost basis.

This is something I relate to personally, as I produce the Geeksphere radio and TV show which utilises SDDC-based services that allow us to produce and publish shows every week.

Five years ago, the cost to build the required infrastructure to do this would have made it almost impossible.

Commercialising new offerings

For partners and resellers, the challenge today is similar; that is, how to commercialise the new offerings available through SDDCs.

Also, if you have your own private cloud offerings, how do you commercialise the current in-market public cloud options so that they allow you to grow and get value out of your existing investments?

Every public cloud provider is currently working on how to answer this challenge. My advice is to keep pushing them hard to find an offering that works for you, but don’t expect a 100% complete solution as yet. The key thing is not to be afraid of it!

What we are seeing is an evolution not a revolution of service offerings.

Marketing people will try to get you to believe that SDDCs are an amazing ‘all new’ product. But, if you keep in mind the reality that people have built businesses and offerings around this type of technology for over 20 years, you’ll be well placed to work out how to utilise their benefits most suitably for your business needs.

It’s clear that the software and the tools available through SDDCs are providing us with flexibility and choice, at a compelling price point, so if you are prepared to engage in this dynamic space, you will be able to keep your business at the forefront of the cloud transformation.

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