Transforming your IT environment into a Software Defined Data Center

By Neville Wall August 15, 2013

Lately, I’ve been seeing two types of customers emerge when it comes to cloud.  There are those who are still coming to terms with the concepts and benefits of cloud computing, and then there are customers who already “get” Cloud, and are asking themselves:

“What do I need to do to transform my infrastructure into a Software Defined Data Center (SDDC)?”

Some people might not understand the difference is between Cloud and SDDC. Do you know? Of course you do, but as a quick reminder…

Cloud Computing has the following characteristics:


It can also be deployed through different models:


So how does that contrast with a SDDC? It’s simple: The SDDC is the next generation of the full breadth of technology that better enables Cloud Computing.  It is software that delivers greater levels of intelligence and value on top of an infrastructure (not just compute, but also networking and of course storage). Because a SDDC has high Neville Quote2levels of automation, is separated from the physical infrastructure (i.e. virtualized), and has open & RESTful API’s, it means you can take business policies such as SLAs, compliance, cost, and availability, and codify them in software.

The result is the ability to provision infrastructure quicker; an infrastructure that responds to and even anticipates business changes, runs entirely on software, is free from human errors, and is always in accordance with your policy and compliance requirements.

So, where do I start?

Customers really need to think about this from two sides: the products and the services. On the product side, you should be considering products that cover:

  • Software Defined Networking products, such as VMware’s Nicira
  • Compute virtualization products, such as vSphere
  • Management & Orchestration products, such as vCloud Automation Center
  • Software Defined Storage, such as ViPR

While having the right products to help your transformation is important, it’s equally as important to focus on the services you use in conjunction with these products.In these cost conscious times, customers need to justify investments more than ever, and you need to be able to make a case for a transformation towards an SDDC. EMC Global Services has an approach which starts with three foundational services that help clients build the case for change:

Neville Quote

  • Rapid Workload Classification (RAC)
    A service that can take up to about two weeks, where methodology and RAC tools are used to assess the relative importance of a customer’s applications to the business. Understanding this is a key factor in any transformation decision making process.
  1. Automated Blueprinting: An Automated Blueprinting solution is deployed once the importance of a customer’s applications has been understood.  The blueprinting automatically discovers and maps infrastructure and applications. Instead of starting from an assumed list of assets, it actually observes live system interactions and configurations to understand and measure what IT components exist and how they are used. It maps the interdependencies between applications and infrastructure, and the levels of utilization for individual components.
  2. Dynamic IT Financial Model: Having collected information about a customer’s application landscape and infrastructure we feed this information into a financial management tool that is used to construct a business case. Business cases are notorious for being inaccurate due to assumptions being made because of a lack of data, but the Dynamic IT Financial Model takes cost information directly from the customer’s general ledger (and other sources if needs be) and twins it with the detailed information delivered by the RAC and Automated Blueprinting services. It enables us to definitively model the costs of a customers’ infrastructure and compare it to the costs of an SDDC reference architecture. It’s here that a customer will really begins to understand the total financial benefits of transforming to an SDDC.

At the end of this exercise, the findings are presented and we explain what the next steps are to create an SDDC strategy.  With the right mix of products and a solid strategy supported by real data, you too can be well on your way to transforming your infrastructure into a SDDC.

Do you want even more information on Software Defined Storage? Then be sure to check out this article.

About Neville Wall

Neville Wall is a Director in EMC Global Services, responsible for EMC’s professional services portfolio in EMEA. He has over 15 years experience in the whole IT lifecycle, from identifying business needs, business case creation, through to sales, delivery, and the introduction solutions into managed operations.

Specifically, Neville has focused on large scale data center programs, including the design, build and running of core infrastructures, data center consolidations, large scale virtualization and automation programs, application migrations, securing IT environments, and the transformation of traditional infrastructures into cloud services. He has worked for clients in the Financial Services, Telco, Oil & Gas, and Government sectors.

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One thought on “Transforming your IT environment into a Software Defined Data Center

  1. Excellent points Neville. The entire value proposition of a transformation project changes when the the effects of the IT project can be shown as aligned to business goals. When SDDC is designed properly as you laid out, systems can be placed on infrastructure that responds to to fluctuating unexpected peaks in demand, eliminating the need for guess work over provisioning. The idea that business policies can actually be reflected in IT operations is so bold and so new and has great promise.