Half of UK IT unfamiliar with software-defined datacentres, shows study

Software-defined datacentres may be touted as the next big thing in enterprise IT, but 50% of IT pros are unclear of its benefits, study shows

Software-defined datacentres (SDDC) may be touted as the next big thing in enterprise IT, but five out of 10 IT professionals are unclear of their benefits, a study has found.

The term software-defined datacentre, coined by virtualisation and cloud provider VMware, rose to prominence in 2012. An SDDC is an IT facility where the elements of the infrastructure – networking, storage, CPU and security – are virtualised and delivered as a service. The provisioning and operation of the infrastructure is entirely automated by software.

A software-defined infrastructure means IT can automate deployment and redeployment of workflows and workloads across tiered platforms. This, in turn, will help the infrastructure respond quickly to demand changes and bottlenecks without human intervention. 

It will also prioritise workloads into different performance tiers based on their business criticality at a point in time, such as month-end billing, new customer-facing initiatives and archive data. It can even move them in and out of the cloud.

The SDDC market is estimated to be worth $5.41bn by 2018.

The study of IT professionals conducted by Adapt, a managed-service provider, found that 61% of respondents claim to be familiar with the concept of the SDDC. But, when it comes to explaining the benefits, most are unclear. 

More on SDDC

About 13% of respondents felt it was about performance, 20% felt it provided centralised management and another 17% admitted they don’t understand the benefits.

It also found two in five respondents didn't believe a true SDDC is achievable in the next 12 months as a production-ready environment, while a quarter believed it is.

“The datacentre industry is rapidly evolving. Building large-scale datacentres with high volumes of hardware is very inefficient and complex for cloud service providers and enterprises," said Kevin Linsell, head of service development at Adapt.

Varied answers were given by respondents when asked to explain what an SDDC means to their business. From flexibility and security, through to efficiency and lower costs, a true explanation of the benefits of an SDDC has not yet been defined or understood by UK organisations, Adapt warned.

“Through the use of software as opposed to hardware, an SDDC can offer businesses a fast, incredibly flexible way to not only virtualise their IT, but increase levels of flexibility, agility and control from the application layer down. It can remove barriers and enable business transformation," according to Linsell.

Joe Baguley, VMware’s Europe CTO, previously predicted that software-defined everything is changing the design, function and price points of datacentres.

Datacentres of tomorrow will not be populated with name-brand products,” he said. “Instead, they will be populated by white boxes built by unknown companies. Hardware doesn’t matter any more. You can build resilience and efficiency into the software layer. Hardware becomes irrelevant."

Linsell warned it may take a while for SDDC to achieve market acceptance, as with all big evolutionary steps. 

“Our latest survey is evidence of the confusion in the industry. Education is key to ensuring businesses reap the rewards that SDDC promises,” he said.

Read more on Datacentre performance troubleshooting, monitoring and optimisation