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Enterprises warned off rushing into software-defined datacentre investments

Market watcher Gartner has urged users to take a cautious approach to software-defined datacentre investments

Enterprise datacentre operators should be wary of rushing to adopt a software-defined approach to managing their facilities, IT analyst house Gartner has warned.

While many suppliers have extolled the virtues of adopting a software-defined datacentre (SDDC) strategy over the past 18 months, Gartner said the concept is still too immature for all firms to do so successfully.

Dave Russell, vice-president and analyst at Gartner, said IT departments need to make sure they understand the business case and risks associated with the move to successfully adopt a software-led approach to their datacentre operations.

“Due to its current immaturity, the SDDC is most appropriate for visionary organisations with advanced expertise in infrastructure and operations engineering and architecture,” said Russell.

Particularly as building an SDDC requires addressing multiple parts of the infrastructure stack that may have been built by different suppliers.

“Infrastructure and operations leaders can’t just buy a ready-made SDDC from a supplier,” said Russell.

“First, they need to understand why they need it for the business. Second, they need to deploy, orchestrate and integrate numerous parts, probably from different suppliers.”

Companies that seek to tweak their existing legacy infrastructure to take advantage of software-defined practices could also be on a pointless journey, according to Gartner.

This is because some firms may seek to deploy automation or self-service tools, for example, without giving due care and attention to what their actual IT service needs are, or lack the skills in-house to really make a success of SDDC.

The latter point is something a company can take steps to address ahead of any concerted push to embrace the SDDC model, said Russell.

“Build the right skills in your organisation by enabling top infrastructure architects to experiment with public cloud infrastructure in small projects, as well giving them the opportunity to get out and learn what their peers in other organisations and visionaries in this field are doing,” he said.

Why all the software-defined datacentre hype?

A SDDC is defined as one where all of its infrastructure is virtualised and delivered as-a-service, which – in turn – paves the way for higher levels of automation and resource flexibility.

For users, it is claimed this can make it easier for them to adopt cloud services and DevOps-style agile software development strategies, while also helping to lower the operating costs associated with owning their own or using a third-party provider’s facility.

According to Gartner, by 2020, 75% of the Global 2,000 enterprises will consider a SDDC strategy a key requirement of their moves to adopt DevOps or hybrid cloud strategies.

For most firms, having access to a SDDC is still likely to be many years away, said Russell, but that should not put them off laying the groundwork for the approach.

“The first step is understanding the core concepts of the SDDC. Then, infrastructure and operations leaders should examine the available systems, starting with one component, process or software-defined domain that can benefit,” said Russell. 

“The final stage is to plan a roadmap to full deployment if and when SDDC systems are appropriate,” he added. ........................................................

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