Time for change – Will DevOps fast forward SDN?

The SDN (Software Defined Networking) juggernaut continues to rumble on with industry views about adoption shifting quickly from “if” to “when”. Software defined datacenters (SDDC) are emerging, underpinned by solutions including Vsphere, mainframe virtualisation, Xen and Windows Server to name a few platforms, but the full realisation of the power and agility promised remains an aspiration rather than a reality for many organisations. However a key element of the secret sauce to unlock that promise may be appearing and it’s not a technology based gadget or feature – its people doing what people have done in the IT arena since its birth, IT operations, development and programming – all hail the “DevOps” team.

The DevOps team will be key to the accelerated adoption of “tangible” SDN across the enterprise. SDN leverages software based network elements to deliver key networking outcomes (control functions, routing, security, etc). However the magic of software is the ability to programme, automate and personalise an activity with further development & programming. The emerging advanced SDN programming requirement is not just for the network but equally the broader IT systems activity that delivers a virtualised workload as an element of software defined datacenter (or hybrid datacenter). The tight coupling between infrastructure, virtualisation and accelerated operations now highlights the need for a team of IT operations skilled individuals with a sound understanding of application provisioning and implementation logic. And the result – the stratospheric rise of the DevOps team from a back room pool of siloed operations and development personnel to a new role delivering business aligned IT systems automation and orchestration footprints.

The DevOps team are normally established IT infrastructure aware operations staff that have evolved from systems based CLI and scripting to advanced automation coding using development tools including Puppet and Chef. DevOps is now seen by many as the missing link for evolving organisations as they strive to embrace the promise of network automation and flexibility woven into the virtualised compute environment. Ask yourself who currently performs such a role with your organisation – and can they currently bind your network configuration and activities via sophisticated automation to the virtualised compute stack to accelerate workload deployment.

If you currently manage a maturing DevOps team, it’s time for them to take centre stage as SDN and SDDC evolve to deliver maximum value to the organisation. And if you have no DevOps team now may be the time to understand who in your organisation can weave together the automated, virtualised, workload centric, multi technology elements required by to ensure IT systems remain at the heart of business agility. Look no further than the DevOps team.

Until next time

@Colinwccuk

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About Colin Williams

Colin is Computacenter's Practice Leader for Networking, Visual Collaboration & Security @colinwccuk

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