A software defined data center (SDDC) is a data center facility with an architecture that utilizes virtualization technologies and techniques to abstract the computing and storage capabilities of IT hardware into software form. Once virtualized, this software can be bundled and sold as a service to customers, allowing many customers to manage their own services on the same physical server. To make a crude analogy, server virtualization is similar to dividing up a building into several distinct rooms and then renting those rooms out to anyone willing to pay for them.
By virtualizing their hardware resources, today’s data centers can bundle services together and offer them to their customers. They can also accommodate many different kinds of customers on a single server, allowing them to maximize their available infrastructure resources. For businesses looking to partner with a data center, virtualization offers a number of advantages.
The virtualization of computing and storage services allows companies to access them through the cloud rather than having to invest in their own hardware. For companies looking to get out from under the expense of purchasing and maintaining their own IT infrastructure, virtualization provides a cost effective solution. More importantly, it has given smaller businesses access to the powerful resources that were previously only available to larger organizations. For software developers, this has proven to be a boon, allowing even meager start-ups to develop and test applications with relatively little capital investment.
For data centers, the virtualization of storage and computing resources has made it possible to scale facilities in ways that would have been unthinkable at the turn of the century. By greatly expanding their capacity, they’ve managed to offer a wider array of services in a relatively cost-effective manner. Building a new data center remains a massive up front investment, but SDDC virtualization allows those facilities to provide more value per square foot than ever before, making today’s hyperscale data centers not only possible, but practical as well.
Virtualization has also made it easier than ever for organizations to manage their data and assets. With no physical hardware to manipulate or connect to, data center customers can access services and proprietary data from anywhere at any time. For companies pushing the boundaries of edge computing with internet of things devices and streaming content services, access to virtualized storage and processing resources has fundamentally changed the way they design and implement their network architecture.
Since data and assets are contained in virtualized servers, data centers can manage customer resources faster and more effectively than ever through the cloud. In many cases, business intelligence platforms allow data center customers to monitor and manage their own virtualized servers. Using these tools, they can define who has access to secure systems and closely monitor usage patterns over time. This level of transparency not only provides organizations with tremendous insights into their networks, but also gives data centers the ability to respond quickly to problems and provide customers with effective support.
One of the biggest advantages virtualization offers data center customers is its ability to rapidly scale to meet their specific needs. With additional storage capacity and computing power readily accessible through software-based virtual servers, organizations experiencing rapid growth or increased demand can expand their capacity without having to purchase or rent additional hardware. This data center as a service (DCaaS) platform model provides unmatched flexibility for companies with variable workflows or operating in unpredictable markets.
And it’s not just about getting more of what they’re already using. Virtualization allows data centers to offer a wide range of services that would have been unthinkable in past decades. From enhanced security measures to big data analytics driven by machine learning, the modern data center is a virtual marketplace that offers companies a wide range of tools and services that can benefit their business as they grow over time. Thanks to virtualization, these organizations only pay for the services they receive, which allows them to devote their resources to offerings that add real strategic value.
Today’s data centers have incredible energy demands, soaking up about three percent of all the world’s electricity according to some estimates. Given all the power they use, it’s hard to believe that these facilities are, on average, far more efficient than their predecessors. While meeting data center energy demands will surely continue to be a challenge, they no longer pose a legitimate threat to the world’s energy resources as they were projected to in the early 2000s.
Virtualization deserves a lot of credit for this shift. By moving from a purely hardware solution to software-driven server management, data centers have become much more efficient and have been able to do far more with far less. Innovations in memory, processors, and cooling have had the most impact on virtualization, greatly expanding the capabilities of the hardware that makes up a data center’s physical infrastructure.
In terms of power consumption, virtualized servers running in dedicated third party data centers are far more energy efficient than small, outdated private facilities. Independent data centers tend to operate as such a scale that they’re able to leverage available renewable energy sources, which further enhances their efficiency standards. For organizations looking to ditch their old data center facilities for cloud-based DCaaS platform offerings from a data center partner, virtualization provides a powerful environmentalist argument in favor of making the transition.
Software defined data center architecture has redefined the nature and role of today’s data centers. Far from a mere repository of data or convenient home for IT hardware, these facilities offer tremendous opportunities for organizations looking to maximize their IT investments. Virtualization is already well underway, and the companies willing to make the shift to a more data center-centric strategic approach can gain significant advantages over competitors who are hesitant to embrace the concept of the data center as a committed service provider.