Welcome!

Open Source Cloud Authors: Mehdi Daoudi, Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, William Schmarzo, XebiaLabs Blog

Related Topics: SDN Journal, Java IoT, Microservices Expo, Linux Containers, Containers Expo Blog, @CloudExpo

SDN Journal: Blog Feed Post

Software Defined Shouldn’t Be About Infrastructure

The focus of a Software Defined strategy should be the applications not the underlying infrastructure

The term "software defined" has taken many forms in recent months from Software Defined Datacenter (SDDC), Software Defined Infrastructure (SDI) to even component vendors adopting the tagline to exalt their own agenda with Software Defined Networking (SDN) and Software Defined Storage (SDS). Yet ironically the majority of the vendors adopting the tagline are also dealing with infrastructure product lines that a "software defined" approach is aiming to make irrelevant.

The emergence of the cloud illuminated to the industry that the procurement, design and deployment of the infrastructure components of network, storage and compute were a hindrance to application delivery. The inability for infrastructure components to not be quickly and successfully coordinated together as well as be automatically responsive to application needs has led many to question why traditional approaches to infrastructure are still being considered. In an attempt to safeguard themselves from this realisation, it's no surprise that the infrastructure vendors have adopted the software defined terminology and consequently marketed themselves as such even though at the end of the day they are still selling what is quintessentially hardware.

From the networking and storage perspective software defined is about abstracting legacy hardware from multiple vendors via virtualization so that the management and configuration is done completely by software. Instead of managing individual components based on their vendor, via APIs these now common pools of network and storage can be quickly and easily managed with automation and orchestration tools. Ironically though this has already existed for some time with examples being HDS' storage virtualization arrays and Nicira's pre-VMware takeover initiatives with OpenFlow, OpenvSwitch and OpenStack. Even the vAppliance concept that is taking on a "software defined" spin has been around for several years. Having the data planes and control of what was a legacy hardware appliance now go via a virtual version is nothing new when looked at in the context of VMware vShield Edge firewalls or NetApp's ONTAP Edge VSA. Looking behind the marketing smokescreen of ease of management & simplification etc. in reality though most if not all of these technologies were invested in and created to do one thing only and that was to take market share away from their competing vendors. By having all your legacy storage arrays or network switches now abstracted and consequently managed and configured by software that is provided by only one of those vendors, the control and future procurement decisions lie firmly in their park. So why do we need to take the software defined approach seriously if at all and what should be our focus if not the infrastructure products that "software defined" seems inherently linked to marketing?

Software defined is incredibly important and vital to IT and the businesses they support because it should bring the focus back on to what matters the most, namely the applications and not the underlying infrastructure.  A true software defined approach to infrastructure that considers the application as its focal point ultimately leads to infrastructure being treated as code where the underlying hardware becomes irrelevant. By configuring all the infrastructure interdependencies as code with an understanding that it needs to support the application and the various environmental transitions it will go through leads to a completely different mindset and approach in terms of subsequent configuration and management of infrastructure. In this case a converged infrastructure approach whereby infrastructure is pre-integrated, pretested and pre-validated from inception as a product ready platform for applications is most suited. Understanding the capabilities of what software defined really is, beyond the hyperbole of infrastructure vendors leads to practices where concepts such as Continuous Delivery, Continuous Deployment and Continuous Integration can take place leading to a radical transformation in the way IT delivers value to the business.

The focus of a Software Defined strategy should be the applications not the underlying infrastructure

So if and when you do face a sales pitch, a new product line or an infrastructure savvy consultant that espouses to you how great and wonderful "software defined" is, there are several things to note and question. Beyond the workings of the infrastructure components how much application awareness and intelligence is there? How will this enable a DevOps approach and a quicker, more reliable and repeatable code deployment that will meet the requirements of the changing demands of your business? How will this also mitigate risk and ensure that applications will not just have their infrastructure resources automated and met but also their consistency in code from development to QA to an eventual live environment?

It is these questions and challenges that a "software defined" approach addresses and solves enabling significant benefits to a business. Once application code changes become reliable, automated and consequently frequent based on an infrastructure that meets the changing demands of its applications, a business can quickly gain a competitive edge over its rivals. Being able to respond quickly to market trends such as ensuring your website can cater for a sudden upsurge of transactions from its mobile version, or countering a sudden commodity price change etc. are all key to gaining a competitive advantage and consequently require an application delivery process that responds to those needs. A "Software Defined" approach can help businesses reach that goal by automating the time consuming,  human error processes linked with IT, as long as they don't lose focus that it's about the applications and not just the infrastructure that supports it.

More Stories By Archie Hendryx

SAN, NAS, Back Up / Recovery & Virtualisation Specialist.

@ThingsExpo Stories
Internet-of-Things discussions can end up either going down the consumer gadget rabbit hole or focused on the sort of data logging that industrial manufacturers have been doing forever. However, in fact, companies today are already using IoT data both to optimize their operational technology and to improve the experience of customer interactions in novel ways. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Gordon Haff, Red Hat Technology Evangelist, shared examples from a wide range of industries – including en...
Detecting internal user threats in the Big Data eco-system is challenging and cumbersome. Many organizations monitor internal usage of the Big Data eco-system using a set of alerts. This is not a scalable process given the increase in the number of alerts with the accelerating growth in data volume and user base. Organizations are increasingly leveraging machine learning to monitor only those data elements that are sensitive and critical, autonomously establish monitoring policies, and to detect...
"We're a cybersecurity firm that specializes in engineering security solutions both at the software and hardware level. Security cannot be an after-the-fact afterthought, which is what it's become," stated Richard Blech, Chief Executive Officer at Secure Channels, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
To get the most out of their data, successful companies are not focusing on queries and data lakes, they are actively integrating analytics into their operations with a data-first application development approach. Real-time adjustments to improve revenues, reduce costs, or mitigate risk rely on applications that minimize latency on a variety of data sources. Jack Norris reviews best practices to show how companies develop, deploy, and dynamically update these applications and how this data-first...
Intelligent Automation is now one of the key business imperatives for CIOs and CISOs impacting all areas of business today. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Brian Boeggeman, VP Alliances & Partnerships at Ayehu, will talk about how business value is created and delivered through intelligent automation to today’s enterprises. The open ecosystem platform approach toward Intelligent Automation that Ayehu delivers to the market is core to enabling the creation of the self-driving enterprise.
The question before companies today is not whether to become intelligent, it’s a question of how and how fast. The key is to adopt and deploy an intelligent application strategy while simultaneously preparing to scale that intelligence. In her session at 21st Cloud Expo, Sangeeta Chakraborty, Chief Customer Officer at Ayasdi, will provide a tactical framework to become a truly intelligent enterprise, including how to identify the right applications for AI, how to build a Center of Excellence to ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Massive Networks will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Massive Networks mission is simple. To help your business operate seamlessly with fast, reliable, and secure internet and network solutions. Improve your customer's experience with outstanding connections to your cloud.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Datera, that offers a radically new data management architecture, has been named "Exhibitor" of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo ®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Datera is transforming the traditional datacenter model through modern cloud simplicity. The technology industry is at another major inflection point. The rise of mobile, the Internet of Things, data storage and Big...
Everything run by electricity will eventually be connected to the Internet. Get ahead of the Internet of Things revolution and join Akvelon expert and IoT industry leader, Sergey Grebnov, in his session at @ThingsExpo, for an educational dive into the world of managing your home, workplace and all the devices they contain with the power of machine-based AI and intelligent Bot services for a completely streamlined experience.
Because IoT devices are deployed in mission-critical environments more than ever before, it’s increasingly imperative they be truly smart. IoT sensors simply stockpiling data isn’t useful. IoT must be artificially and naturally intelligent in order to provide more value In his session at @ThingsExpo, John Crupi, Vice President and Engineering System Architect at Greenwave Systems, will discuss how IoT artificial intelligence (AI) can be carried out via edge analytics and machine learning techn...
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Arvind Radhakrishnen discussed how IoT offers new business models in banking and financial services organizations with the capability to revolutionize products, payments, channels, business processes and asset management built on strong architectural foundation. The following topics were covered: How IoT stands to impact various business parameters including customer experience, cost and risk management within BFS organizations.
SYS-CON Events announced today that CA Technologies has been named "Platinum Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. CA Technologies helps customers succeed in a future where every business - from apparel to energy - is being rewritten by software. From planning to development to management to security, CA creates software that fuels transformation for companies in the applic...
From 2013, NTT Communications has been providing cPaaS service, SkyWay. Its customer’s expectations for leveraging WebRTC technology are not only typical real-time communication use cases such as Web conference, remote education, but also IoT use cases such as remote camera monitoring, smart-glass, and robotic. Because of this, NTT Communications has numerous IoT business use-cases that its customers are developing on top of PaaS. WebRTC will lead IoT businesses to be more innovative and address...
SYS-CON Events announced today that CA Technologies has been named “Platinum Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. CA Technologies helps customers succeed in a future where every business – from apparel to energy – is being rewritten by software. From planning to development to management to security, CA creates software that fuels transformation for companies in the applic...
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 21st Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devic...
WebRTC is great technology to build your own communication tools. It will be even more exciting experience it with advanced devices, such as a 360 Camera, 360 microphone, and a depth sensor camera. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Masashi Ganeko, a manager at INFOCOM Corporation, will introduce two experimental projects from his team and what they learned from them. "Shotoku Tamago" uses the robot audition software HARK to track speakers in 360 video of a remote party. "Virtual Teleport" uses a...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Calligo has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Calligo is an innovative cloud service provider offering mid-sized companies the highest levels of data privacy. Calligo offers unparalleled application performance guarantees, commercial flexibility and a personalized support service from its globally located cloud platform...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Elastifile will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Elastifile Cloud File System (ECFS) is software-defined data infrastructure designed for seamless and efficient management of dynamic workloads across heterogeneous environments. Elastifile provides the architecture needed to optimize your hybrid cloud environment, by facilitating efficient...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloudistics, an on-premises cloud computing company, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Launched in 2016, Cloudistics helps anyone bring the power of the cloud to the data center in an easy-to-use, on- premises cloud platform that automatically provides high performance resources for all types of applications: Docke...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Golden Gate University will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Since 1901, non-profit Golden Gate University (GGU) has been helping adults achieve their professional goals by providing high quality, practice-based undergraduate and graduate educational programs in law, taxation, business and related professions. Many of its courses are taug...