Software-Defined Data Centers: Seeing Through the Hype

In case you didn’t catch it this morning, AllThingsD ran a piece endorsing the idea of the software-defined data center (SDDC). That’s a venue where hordes of non-technical mid- and upper-level managers will see it and (because of the credibility of AllThingsD) will believe SDDCs are not only possible, but that they exist and that your company is somehow falling behind because you personally have not sketched up an SDDC topology on a napkin or brought a package of it to install.

If mid-level managers in your datacenter or extended IT department have not been pinged at least once today by business-unit managers offering to tip them off to the benefits of SDDC—or demand that they buy one—then someone should go check the internal phone system because not all the calls are coming through.

Why was AllThingD’s piece problematic?

First, because it’s a good enough publication to explain all the relevant technology terms in ways that even a non-technical audience can understand. Second, it’s also a credible source, owned by Dow Jones & Co. and spun off by The Wall Street Journal. Third, SDDC is genuinely happening—but it’s in the very early stages. The true benefits of the platform won’t arrive for quite some time—and there’s too much to do in the meantime to talk about potential endpoints.

Some parts of SDDC are in place, while others are being added to existing products. It’s been validated (mathematically) as a concept and declared useful enough that vendors and standards groups are working their way toward it.

More than an actual technology, SDDC is the culmination of many other efforts at abstracting, consolidating, managing, provisioning, load balancing and distributing datacenter assets. Its evolution comes courtesy of gradual improvements in all areas of datacenter management, policy, performance, procurement and administration, with an eye toward (eventually) creating something that makes the control surfaces of a datacenter look more like those of a virtual-server infrastructure or hybrid cloud or consolidated set of telecom services under the umbrella of UC.

The safest thing is to accommodate the pique of anyone complaining about the lack of SDDC in your enterprise by listening to the complaints and explaining that the datacenter has been quietly moving in that direction for quite a while, but that the technology is not advanced to the point that “SDDC” actually appears on any of the equipment requisitions or budgets. Then educate them by pointing them toward a few of the resources below, each of which ably explains different aspects of software-defined-data centers.

Webopedia: Software-Defined Datacenter

What’s All the Buzz About SDDC? (Wired)

The Software-Defined-Data-Center (SDDC): Concept or Reality?

Software-Defined Datacenters Demystified (ComputerWeekly)

What the Software-Defined Data Center Really Means (InfoWorld)

SDDC and Security: What’s In a Name? (Gartner) 

The Software-Defined Data Center is the Future of Infrastructure Architecture (Forrester)

Good luck.


Image: Jorge Moro/

Editor’s Note: The term ‘SDDC’ has been corrected.