Software Defined Networking (SDN)

Software Defined Networking (SDN)

People Are Holding Back The Efficient Enterprise

I had the pleasure of participating on a Software Defined Networking (SDN) panel hosted by Evercore Partners in Boston recently and the topic of people came up in the discussion. What became clear during the panel was that as virtualization grows, its effect on storage, networking and end user computing has made it impossible to manage each domain separately. This makes it almost impossible – but definitely inefficient and costly – to put people in the middle of workload placement and optimization decisions. Simply put, people are holding back the efficient IT enterprise.

To be clear: this is not to say that humans should be removed from IT altogether. Brilliant minds design beautifully intricate enterprise IT systems that drive today’s most successful businesses. What we are learning, however, is that the administrative and management tasks that these systems require is beyond the cognitive – and capital – capabilities of most corporate IT departments. It is essentially a variation on the virtualization argument that likely got the technology into the door: organizations should have their talented engineers and technicians focused on moving the business forward, not keeping their virtual environment up and running.

The problem is that many businesses are clinging to on-premise IT practices in their new virtualized environment. The fact of the matter is that SaaS and virtualization environments are not reliant on people to perform. IT is currently undergoing a transformation similar to the agricultural industry. At one point in time, one person hitched up a plow to a horse and tilled his fields from morning until sunset. Now, modern farmers plant, cultivate and harvest crops from fields that are exponentially larger than their predecessors using machinery that automates all of these processes and performs them better than any human could. Corporate IT staffs find themselves in a similar position thanks to virtualization.

We have found that a relatively small environment of 500 virtual machines generates an alert every 3 minutes. It would be an impossible task for a single IT administrator to handle all of these alerts and a highly costly one for a business that committed the necessary resources to do so. If you have alerts in your virtualized environment, you are waiting for problems so the key is to enable SDN practices and IT decision management automation where it makes the most sense for the business.

The first step in rolling out SDN is to migrate to a conversion infrastructure. This provides corporate IT departments with the benefit of a single hardware SKU rather than having to align all of the elements in the IT roadmap. From there, systems admins and managers can decide where virtual machines are best utilized and write scripts that optimize the overall infrastructure’s performance. Allowing people to leverage software to automate IT decision management puts people where they should be: out of the way. Machines are able to perform as fast as their capabilities allow rather than the IT staff’s ability to neutralize issues.

It is inefficient and costly to have a person responding to alerts and troubleshooting an environment.  Just like software automation has transformed Wall Street trading, the continued growth of virtualization and the advent of real SDN will usher in a new wave of software automation for intelligent workload placement and optimization in the data center as well as across cloud and hybrid environments.

By  N. Louis Shipley

shipleyMr. N. Louis Shipley, Lou has been the Chief Executive Officer and President of VMTurbo Inc. since 2011.  Mr. Shipley is an experienced Chief Executive Officer with virtualization and cloud expertise. Mr. Shipley served as the Group Vice President and General Manager of Management Systems Group at Citrix Systems, Inc. He served as General Manager of Citrix XenServer. 

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One Response to Software Defined Networking (SDN)

  1. You are absolutely right in talking about the need to orchestrate workloads across different resource pools. What will be interesting is whether there is a common language that is used to describe a workload across the various silos. For instance, it might be nice to flag an application as HIPPA, and then have each of compute, storage, and networking translate that into the required behavior underneath. The question is: who defines this abstraction? And then who translates the abstraction into silo-specific behavior?

    -Mike Bushong (@mbushong)

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