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Three quick tips for a software-defined data center strategy

Data center managers who want to create a software-defined data center strategy may find that the path to complete automation is a rocky road. But there are a few ways to prepare.

Building a software-defined data centers (SDDCs) to pool and automate compute, storage, networking, security and other services through a unified software platform can ultimately simplify IT operations and possibly lower costs, according to vendors in the SDDC space.

What is a software-defined data center?

Software-defined is and isn't another word for virtualization

What to focus on in the future data center

VMware's software-defined data center recipe

What's missing from the VMware SDDC

But with that comes new challenges, such as the number of management interfaces for IT to handle and the voracity and size of security attacks, said Brad Maltz, virtualization practice manager at technical consultancy Lumenate, during his Boston VMUG breakout session, "How Software-Defined Data Center Technologies Will Change the Industry."

It will take about three years for companies to learn about the software-defined data center concept," said Maltz, who is a VMware Certified Design Expert (VCDX), "and about five to 10 years for them to understand and implement it."

To make SDDC part of your data center strategy, he said to understand and play with the tools. Learn about the integration aspects -- vCloud Automation Center, for example, has five layers below it. And learn how to automate just about everything. A home lab is a great way to try out everything related to SDDCs. Maltz offered some tips for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) to prepare for the software-defined future.

Creating a software-defined data center strategy

Bolster the security team -- or start one. SDDC changes how security operates in the data center, and this change remains in flux. Hardware will be white-boxed in three to five years, and so will networking. Because all of these data center technologies are abstracted into software in the SDDC, security has to change, too. And security attacks are only getting bigger and stronger.

Prepare for interface sprawl. Interface sprawl is getting worse. With multiple hypervisors and network correlators, you need to understand scripting and coding to manage a heterogeneous system. That's fine for large Fortune 500 companies, but a small IT team probably does not have the resources.

Polish those automation skills. Instead of worrying about how provisioning happens, admins need to know and understand automation tools. Start learning Puppet today for configuration management. This is related to scripting knowledge; PowerCLI and PERL scripting will be more important skills as software-defined data centers take shape.


This was first published in July 2013

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