How to reach a software-defined operational state of bliss

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Cirba this week issued a statement suggesting that "intelligent control" and management processes are of ultimate importance if we are to be able to build the perfect Software-Defined DataCentre (SDDC) that IT managers currently go to bed dreaming about.

But it would say that though right?

The firm is a cloud-centric software-defined infrastructure control solutions company after all.

Cirba sells automated controls for infrastructure management to help make datacentre infrastructures more software-defined.

How do network programmers use this then?

The firm offers "clever abstractions" to allow common hardware to be used to create special-purpose configurations.

What our software-defined future is NOT

However, the company says that SDDC nirvana is not achieved by simply bolting together:

• virtualisation,
• software-defined networking,
• other cutting-edge and software-defined technologies.

What our software-defined future nirvana IS (or, at least, might be)

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It is an "operational state" achieved by eliminating current silos of compute, storage, network and software and adopting a new way of managing and controlling all the moving parts within the infrastructure. With the trend toward software-defined infrastructure comes a new level of complexity that can only (says Cirba) be controlled through sophisticated analytics and purpose-built control software. The ability to make unified, automated decisions that span compute, storage, network and software resources, that are based on the true demands and requirements of the applications, and that are accurate enough to drive automation without fear, is the foundation of the next generation of control of IT infrastructure.

Image credit: B. Dehler

According to a press statement from Cirba, sophisticated control is key to aligning the capabilities of the infrastructure (supply) with the requirements of the applications (demand), which in many ways is the true goal of SDDC, or Software-Defined Infrastructure Control.

Cirba's 4-steps to software defined enlightenment

1. Demand Management - Much of the insight into the needs of applications (CPU and memory allocation requirements, software and compliance requirements, performance levels, storage tiers, workload profiles, etc.) exists in organizations today, but has been traditionally used to procure new hardware. SDIC allows this insight to be leveraged to match those applications to existing infrastructure or to programmatically define what the infrastructure should be, enabling IT to plan ahead and make better use of current infrastructure environments.

2. Capacity Control - Capacity management tooling is woefully inadequate in a world where the infrastructure is programmable and application demand changes on a daily basis. The old 'offline' model of infrastructure resource optimization must be replaced by an 'online' version that is constantly assessing supply vs. demand and making adjustments. SDIC makes it possible to achieve intelligent, automated control over the new decisions that need to be made every day in modern datacenters (where workloads can go, how much resource they should be assigned, and what the infrastructure must look like to deliver this).

3. Policy - At the heart of it all is the operational policy that governs how supply and demand are matched, aligned, and controlled. But if you look around most organizations today, all you will find is simplistic thresholds spread across operational tools, and individual staff who know all the details and subtleties of how the environments operate but have no way to codify them. To control a software-defined environment, or even to make a traditional environment more software-defined, these policies must be captured and used programmatically to plan and operate the environments.

4. Automation - Automating needs to go beyond just the VM provisioning process, but there is a lack of intelligence guiding most automation today. Critical is automating the routing decision of where new VMs should be hosted, locking in the capacity, placing VMs, allocating resources, the ongoing optimization of infrastructure and forecasting future requirements. This requires accurate, detailed models of existing and inbound demands, fine-grained control over supply, and policies that bring them together. The move toward software-defined is invariably coupled to the move to higher level of automation, and SDIC can help make this possible.

SDIC bridges the gap that has opened up in the data center management ecosystem and in many ways is the heart of the SDDC.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Adrian Bridgwater published on July 30, 2014 4:31 AM.

Dell Software VP: lightweight app monitoring is, well, just too lightweight was the previous entry in this blog.

Are we confusing the Internet of Things with embedded, already? is the next entry in this blog.

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