Software defined networking (SDN) continues to be a major customer discussion within both the specialist networking and enterprise datacenter arenas. After bubbling under in the mindshare league well below cloud, virtualisation and mobility for quite a while SDN is starting to move up the ranking. However this is not without a fair degree of murmured discontent.
Enterprises, whilst digesting the technical concepts behind SDN are struggling to understand the most effective SDN solution design approach and focus in on the business problem / outcome resolved by SDN. At the highest most strategic level, there are numerous benefits that can include operation efficiencies, network agility and simplicity to name a few. But however compelling they all are, they currently do not seem compelling enough (unless a convenient infrastructure upgrade requirement is often factored into the SDN discussion). This could be the result of looking at something so hard that the some of the more obvious benefits are overlooked and in the case of SDN one said benefits is certainly security.
Networking in software (prior to SDN) had already found its home in the middle of a hypervisor as part of a virtualised compute environment, with the result some degree of understanding of the use of software in enterprise computing to realise networking outcomes is already known. But with the unrelenting growth of server virtualisation beneath a hypervisor with the resulting change to network traffic flows (much of it remaining within the hypervisor or physical host) a hidden challenge became the norm – securing virtualised workloads. The drive by many towards a virtualised enterprise changes decades of traditional design norms of physical perimeter security device placement with the requirement to reproduce a revised ideal for the virtualised workload world.
Enter software defined security (SDS) included within or as a by-product of an SDN strategy. The ability to micro segment virtual workloads using internal virtualised firewalls and controls in software with the reduced need for traffic to flow out of the virtual environment and back to determine the security state is surely a “killer outcome mobilised by SDS or SDN. And before you state it, a secure environment in a virtualised context can be realised today without the use of SDN and software defined security implementation, but SDN makes it much easier, tightly couples it with management and automation frameworks with the result reduced time to value. There are numerous software defined security approaches from standard functionality within specialist SDN overlay networks through to dedicated SDS (software defined security) solutions from specialist vendors with next generation security at the heart. And with enterprises wrestling with the urgent need to secure physical, virtual, hybrid and cloud environments working together as one, a new approach to solving this KEY enterprise IT infrastructure security challenge is surely required.
Software defined security alone isn’t the answer, SDN in isolation isn’t the answer but they are both serious and viable considerations to deliver security outcomes today aligned with problems of tomorrow. To that end, software defined security (SDS) may well be the “killer outcome” that kick starts the SDN change.
Until next time.
The Software defined datacenter (or enterprise) is now the must have discussion topic within the enterprise IT arena. It describes the evolution of IT services and solutions to leverage the power and flexibility of software to drive ever changing business outcomes.
But has anything really changed, hasn’t software always supplied the intelligence to hardware, whether it’s microcode on a piece of firmware, software that programs hardware dynamically, a basic operating system or ultimately a front-line application. In a word, Yes – but this time things may be slightly different. Software defined to varying degrees incorporates all of the above but this time with the onus on maximising the intelligence within software (and the speed new or different intelligence can be add in cycles a magnitude quicker than a hardware orientated design) and for many reducing the intelligence within hardware.
But as software defined starts to gain real momentum with valid use cases more prevalent, many of the earlier perspectives are shifting. The Holy Grail may not be a world of intelligent software and dumb hardware but smart everything (both hardware and software). The key to real software defined success moving forward, is an IT landscape built via systemic thinking delivering almost living or neural IT. This infers the need for greater intimacy between software and hardware, real intelligent intimacy that uses intelligence to be “intelligent”.
Picture a modern smartphone – at present one of the best exponents of software and hardware working tightly in sync to deliver an end user experience (or service). Now think again at the real market leaders in the mobile space, emotion aside aren’t they the vendors where software and hardware (and both are highly optimised) operate in such a seamless and simple manner that enhanced agility and productivity become a by-product of it.
Does this challenge and dilute the possibly over hyped dreams of cost reduction and normalisation aligned with the software defined moniker, not really as commoditisation, the increased speed of virtually everything and improved inherent reliability within modern IT elements are resulting in more for less more often. But for software defined to really be the road ALL traverse, the magical amalgam of software and hardware working together with a level of almost human intimacy and intelligence is the journey that will compel the masses to join and accelerate.
Times are changing, changing times.
Until next time
Colin Williams is a Networking, UC and Security Chief Technologist for Computacenter. Please note the the content of this blog reflect the personal perspective of Colin Williams and not necessarily the viewpoint of Computacenter UK.
This week I experienced a 24-hour period of extremes! During Wednesday morning I spent some time with the CEO and President of Citrix, following up on some of the underlying channel strategies for their recent Synergy summit announcements in SFO (see previous blog “Are the exceptions of the PC era becoming the new assumptions of the Cloud era?” ). Citrix are clearly moving their strategy and messaging to being able to accommodate the “any-ness” related to devices and cloud and it is in the former that I witnessed the extreme.
Fast forward 24-hours and I was privileged to be invited to official opening of our new facilities for our remarketing, redeployment and recycling subsidiary – RDC. During the Managing Director’s welcome speech and tour, I was amazed at some of the statistics they shared. Just a few to sample below:-
- This unique facility extends to 22 acres and houses 355,000 square feet dedicated to the processing and sale of used IT assets
- Turnover and profitability has grown over 100% in the past 3 years
- They have recently been awarded their third Queen’s Award for Enterprise, this time for International Trade, adding to the awards for Innovation and Sustainable in 2002 and 2009.
- They have remarketed, redeployed and recycled enough equipment in the last 2 years to fill the new Olympic Stadium nearly 350 times!
Gerry and his team should be very proud of the achievements they have made.
So how does this related to cloud and devices? Well, even as RDC looks forward to see what the business holds for them in 2012 and beyond – ‘The cloud’ and consumerisation are the key technology drivers! However, for RDC, this is also coupled with the economic tilting of the world towards the South and East that will also shift the origination and market for used product. Whereas in 2003 less than 5% of their customers’ product was left the UK, it is now approaching 80% that is being exported.
At Computacenter, we know that more and more of commercial and consumer traffic will be driven to the cloud, and people will want to access software and data through a diverse range of devices. In the same way we are developing new services around application delivery, data-security, device management and fulfilment of BYOD/Employee choice schemes – RDC recognise that they need to offer more flexible access to dispose of and purchase used equipment. You only have to look around you to see the diversity and growth – but what is happening to the old devices that consumers are so keen to drop whilst they move to the latest and greatest gadget? (in increasingly shorter cycles).
Well that is where RDC are one step ahead. They have already developed a range of web solutions for consumers and employees, to return and purchase used equipment on-line, which you can see here at Money4computers.com.
That is why we believe in delivering truly end-to-end infrastructure services. So even whilst all of the development around cloud and devices is focussed on taking business to new levels of efficiency, mobility, flexibility and agility – with our capabilities in RDC there is also the opportunity for our clients to make money and save the planet at the same time!