By the numbers: The future of the software-defined data center

If you work in IT, you’ve probably noticed the excitement surrounding the software-defined data center (SDDC). According to David Floyer, co-founder and CTO of Wikibon, “Software-led infrastructure is a game-changer for businesses and organizations, on the same scale as the internet was in 1995.”

The idea behind the SDDC is that by virtualizing network, compute, storage and other resources, the entire data center could be centrally controlled by a software layer that connects each component. The end goal is to provision a data center remotely, based on the requirements of the applications that would run on it.

Imagine if IT could configure infrastructure and provision resources on the fly, with a few clicks of a mouse. That capability would provide unprecedented agility for business users, even as demand for IT resources grows. Imagine a tool that would enable IT to both meet demand quickly and provide an IT-sanctioned alternative to unsecured public clouds. As consumerization of IT grows and users seek their own solutions, many IT departments will struggle to maintain control of their environments. The SDDC provides the technology to enable true IT and business alignment, which analysts say is essential to the success of the modern business.

Much of the technology that will enable an infrastructure controlled entirely by software is still emerging. But early successes and increasing market demand indicate that we’re closer than ever to a profound technological shift. Below, we’ve compiled some of the most exciting statistics and predictions that shed light on the future of the modern data center.

  1. The worldwide software-defined networking (SDN) market will grow to over $8 billion by 2018, according to international data corporation (IDC). The same market was valued at $960 million in 2014 – IDC’s projection represents a 90 percent compound annual growth rate. SDN, which can deliver automated provisioning, network virtualization and programmability to enterprise networks, is what InfoWorld calls the “least mature technology to enable the software-defined data center.” But if IDC’s growth projections are accurate, that won’t be the case for long.
  2. Virtualizing networks enables organizations to increase infrastructure change capacity tenfold without increasing staff, according to a interview with VMware executive Chris King. According to King, executives are most attracted to efficiency gains that network virtualization promises. According to King, “Instead of applications taking 12 weeks to deploy, it takes minutes, with all of the required network capabilities and security policies attached to the application. Fully-automated data center environments, enabled via API-driven virtualization, can deliver full-fledged application environments, complete with associated compute, networking, storage, and security in the same way IT staffs provision virtual compute instances today.”
  3. In a 451 Research survey, 96 percent of respondents said they were “somewhat or very likely” to adopt software-defined storage (SDS). In the Maxta-sponsored report, most respondents cited VM-level storage management as the main appeal to move to SDS. And most respondents had already taken steps toward the SDDC: Out of all companies surveyed, 77 percent said that at least half of their servers are already virtualized. Server virtualization is the most established virtualization technology, but storage and network virtualization are not far behind. Respondents cited current IT structure and budget as the biggest hindrances to SDS adoption.
  4. Gartner lists “software-defined applications and infrastructure” as a top 10 strategic technology trend for 2015. According to Gartner, “Agile programming of everything from applications to basic infrastructure is essential to enable organizations to deliver the flexibility required to make the digital business work. Software-defined networking, storage, data centers and security are maturing.” If business leaders aren’t paying attention yet, they should be soon: agile programming of applications and infrastructure — or the SDDC — will be essential to business success in the digital age.
  5. Organizations realize 222 percent ROI after completing full transition to SDDC, according to HP. SDDC initiatives have been shown to provide an initial average savings and ROI of 164 percent at just the first phase, which HP defines as the abstraction and pooling of resources. These benefits then increase with each completed phase of the implementation.

For more insight, check out our infographic: The Software Defined Data Center: What Is It… and Why Is It Such a Big Deal?


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