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Server sprawl or virtual machine sprawl – a software defined data centre (SDDC) makes sense


22 May 2017:
Tom Ellis -  Cloud Solutions Specialist, Azlan & Technology Solutions

Tom Ellis

Cloud Solutions Specialist ,
Azlan & Technology Solutions

Tom Ellis, cloud solutions specialist, Azlan & Technology Solutions believes a vSphere Optimisation Assessment (VOA) is the place to start

A simple definition of the Software Defined Data Centre (SDDC) is that of extending the basic virtualisation concepts such as pooling, abstraction, automation and orchestration to all data centre infrastructure and resources.

 In short, after your customers have virtualised their x86 servers then the next logical step is to look at the storage and the network, with the ultimate goal of harmonising the underlying and, in most cases, legacy compute and storage infrastructure. The result is a data centre with the capacity to expand on demand to meet business requirements.

Whilst the concept may sound easy on paper, the practice of achieving it isn’t – which is why not many IT managers have achieved 100% virtualisation yet.

Why is this?

Well many of today’s IT infrastructures are made up of disparate layers of legacy equipment that either can’t cope with virtualisation technology or are expensive to modernise. There is also the growth in public cloud providers such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure that are tempting businesses to the cloud with the same automation and orchestration promises. This is not a bad thing because if a hybrid cloud model is adopted correctly it allows workloads to move off legacy on-premise infrastructure. This allows the legacy infrastructure to be decommissioned and replaced with something that supports a slimmer and sleeker software defined approach.

It’s fair to say that applications are the key drivers for business growth and innovation, therefore the ability to create, move and deploy workloads on any public platform via a hybrid cloud platform is the right direction for many organisations. The potential to increase productivity by more than 50% whilst reducing the attack surface to potential hackers (using micro-segmentation techniques) means the payoffs for success far outweigh any cost implications.

What’s next?

We know that adopting a software defined approach requires all areas of compute, storage and network to be virtualised to allow for workloads to be created at speed with security and policy attached. The goal is then to enable workloads to move across the private and public cloud platforms that make up a secure hybrid cloud environment. Again, this sounds easy on paper, however, there is one key component missing that I would always position as the first step in any journey to software definition. That is the operations, automation and business logic layer.

Before virtualisation, businesses suffered from physical server sprawl driven by the fact that a new physical service was needed per application. Whilst virtualisation resolved that issue, and brought with it many other innovative and cost saving features, it has created a new problem know as virtual machine sprawl. VMware believes that as many as 80% of its vSphere hosts are unmanaged and with the number of workloads currently in production the need for management is more prevalent than ever. 

Four steps to getting started

To maximise the benefits of vSphere and the SDDC opportunity, here are a series of simple steps to help you get started:

1)         Help your customers to get their Virtual Machine (VM) estate under management - this will enable them to view health, risk and efficiency, all of which are key to delivering further agility and cost reductions.  It is about getting every VM estate match fit for the journey ahead and that is why I call it the first step on a software defined journey.

 2)         Get enabled around vSphere Optimisation Assessment (VOA) - VMware offers a simple 30-day assessment program called a VOA, which leads into a deployment of their vRealize Operations Management platform. This is the start point for a true cloud platform and to building a cross-cloud architecture. 

 3)         Get certified in virtualisation management – Technology Solutions can arrange private on-site or virtual training for your group and customise the curriculum and classes based on the current needs of your team.  Certification maybe faster and easier than you think.

4)         Speak to Technology Solutions about marketing campaigns – use the demand centre to build a campaign around VOAs i.e. where a VMware management product is dropped into a VMware estate to identify problems that aren’t immediately apparent and can lead on to further license sales.  It is also the perfect starting point for customers to get their estate under management and match fit for the SDDC journey ahead.

Once a business has its virtualisation estate under management it’s much easier to transform the storage network layer and pull all policy and security into a single VM stack. If you then add further tools around automation and business management you can innovate freely on the cloud platform of choice but with visibility wherever that may be in a multi cloud solution.

For further information contact a member of our team on swsales-uk@avnet.com  or call 01344 355 726 to discuss a VOA, which potentially could be delivered free to your first customer. 

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