Research Report - End-User
Obstacles and Priorities on the Journey to the Software-Defined Data Center
Date: 01/27/2014 Length: 46 pages Cost: $795.00

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Organizations have long been frustrated with slow delivery of new applications and IT's common lack of ability to optimally operate, manage and update these applications. Public cloud services have benefited greatly as a result, due to the perception that they are faster to deploy and easier to manage. But internal IT must respond as well. The concept of the Software-Defined Data Center (SDDC) picked up tremendous traction in 2013 and it is safe to predict that the SDDC will become one of the dominating trends in enterprise IT in 2014. At the core of the SDDC is the belief that in order to better serve the business, IT infrastructure--internal and external--must be controlled centrally and become radically aligned along application and service requirements. Deploying, operating, managing and updating applications in the most cost-effective, secure, agile and policy-compliant manner is the key goal of the SDDC. Business units are exerting a tremendous amount of pressure on the IT department to accelerate this process, requiring IT to obtain new skills, such as "programming," and to focus on developing cross-domain expertise.

Today there are no central management technologies that are able to control and unify the entire data center and the public cloud. However, this Enterprise Management Associates (EMA) research illustrates that successfully implementing the SDDC starts with an IT operations mindset that focuses on reinventing the infrastructure provisioning and management process in a much more policy-driven manner. Study respondents acknowledged the fact that the SDDC cannot be implemented in the form of a technology project, but rather constitutes a concept that describes guidelines that follow the multi-year vision of entirely closing the traditional gap between enterprise IT and the business.

The SDDC today can also be described as a strategic shift that requires sometimes drastic changes in culture, organization and processes, more than posing a technology challenge. Positioning the SDDC as simply a technology challenge would be simplifying this complex topic and lead to missed expectations. This EMA study is taking a look into the future by focusing on the expertise and opinions of early adopters and visionaries to determine obstacles and priorities on the way to managing the data center and external resources--IaaS, PaaS, SaaS and ultimately BPaaS--in a performance-, resilience-, security- and SLA-driven manner.

Study respondents identified "centralized management across a massively heterogeneous IT infrastructure," "repeatable configuration of software and infrastructure for optimal application deployment" and "orchestration and automation for application deployments across silos" as the core priorities on the journey to the SDDC today. Organizations indicated plans to rely on IT vendors for help in the form of professional consulting and implementation services in the areas of "legacy infrastructure integration" and improved "IT alignment with business requirements."

In 2014, data center investments will focus on capacity management tools, multi-virtualization and/or multi-cloud management platforms, configuration management software and solutions for the centralized management of physical, virtual and cloud resources. Organizations are also seeking to benefit from the ROI and cost advantages of Software Defined Storage (SDS), software-defined networking and network virtualization. All three of these technologies can be seen as catalysts for a more application-centric data center. 

OpenStack, by the end of 2014, will be found within approximately half of IT departments within the EMA sample of early adopters. However, until business-critical use cases become more common for OpenStack deployments, EMA is unwilling to declare OpenStack the winner of the IaaS race.

In short, 2014 is the year of the SDDC and providing developers and applications owners with what they need to successfully deploy, operate and manage an ever-growing number of enterprise applications.

Torsten Volk

Other Contributor:

Jim Frey - Former EMA Analyst

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