Have you heard enough hype about “software-defined” this or that? I can certainly see why. But if you are trying to get a better grasp of the modern datacenter, it’s critical to understand the goal of these new technologies: to reduce the complexity associated with distance.
Of course software-defined technologies have other important purposes, too. But for the sake of this conversation, let’s examine exactly how new software-defined tools are helping bring datacenters closer together. Here are five examples:
1. WAN optimization. WAN optimization has really come a long way. Not only are we trying to improve the end-user computing experience, we are also improving communication among datacenters. Now edge devices are able to optimize communication among multiple datacenters spanning a country or even the globe.
2. Global server load balancing. As a way to make the datacenter more resilient, engineers continuously look for ways to eliminate single points of failure. In that sense, technologies around GSLB have allowed national datacenters to become more agile as disaster recovery sites. Now, users can be load balanced between entire sites to keep in line with business continuity requirements.
3. Datacenter operating systems. Think of this as the next evolutionary step to datacenter infrastructure management (DCIM). Now, datacenter administrators are going to build in infrastructure automation on a multi-site level. As one site needs more resources or to offload some users, another location can pick up the slack. This will become much easier with the next generation of datacenter management technologies.
4. Distributed storage systems. Distributed storage, file, and recovery systems are all connecting datacenters together. The goal is to make a logical DC unit that is easier to manage and control. Every day, new types of distributed systems are helping bring environments and datacenters closer together.
5. Open source computing. Surprised? Open source technologies have been taking the networking, virtualization, and management industries by storm. Technologies such as CloudStack and OpenStack are allowing for direct cloud infrastructure integration. The challenge with open source technologies, however, is standardization. Still, look for open source to make a big dent in the software-defined market.
There’s no doubt that optimization technologies are going to continue to evolve. One of the key technologies making the software-defined push is, of course, software-defined networking. We can do so much more with a physical switch now than we ever could before. Now, we even have network virtualization and the ability to quickly create thousands of vNICs from physical devices. The ability to dynamically create LANs, vLANs, and other types of connectivity points has become easier with more advanced networking appliances.
[Read how vendors are using software to handle complex operations and overcome obstacles to scaling in networking and storage in "SDN Helps Break Down Barriers To Scaling."]
This goes far beyond optimizing links between datacenters. As the industry moves forward, we are creating a truly distributed system capable of much higher levels of resilience and business continuity. Even now, the open source environment is picking up its pace with a number of distributed environment management platforms.
What software-defined tools are you using, considering, or adopting that would help reduce the complexity of distance in your datacenter environment? Share your thoughts in the comments.Bill is an enthusiastic technologist with experience in datacenter design, management, and deployment. His architecture work includes large virtualization and cloud deployments as well as business network design and implementation. Bill enjoys writing, blogging, and educating ... View Full Bio