Software-Led Infrastructure Bringing Revolutionary Change to IT

A revolution is brewing in IT, and its name is software-led infrastructure (SLI), writes Wikibon CTO David Floyer in a seminal report that presents his vision of a unified, automated, dynamic future. As all aspects of the infrastructure – servers, networks, and storage – are virtualized and new disruptive technologies like server-based persistent solid-state storage are incorporated, data center management will be unified and automated through Open Source standards to support coordination across the entire environment. The result will be a single dynamic system that incorporates all IT infrastructure in the enterprise including not just the central data center but extending to remote and public cloud resources. Delivery of all services will be managed across the entire infrastructure with resources reallocated dynamically to meet changing demands based on SLAs and overall business priorities.

Key aspects of this vision are:

  • Pervasive virtualization and encapsulation that supports dynamic distribution of workloads across all resources.
  • Software-Defined Networking (SDN) that unifies all networks – user, storage, and processor-to-processor, to remove the network bottleneck, allowing dynamic traffic prioritization and management.
  • Unified metadata about system, application, and data that supports synchronization across the environment.
  • Distributed, high-performance, persistent, solid-state storage that is distributed throughout and between data centers and addressed directly by processors.
  • Centralized, increasingly intelligent data management capabilities that ensures integrity, availability, disaster protection, and device and location optimization.

This will redefine IT services from being essentially isolated individual offerings to parts of a single whole encompassing the entire IT infrastructure from data center and cloud to user desktops and mobile devices and optimized for:

  • Speed, performance, or time-to-market,
  • Availability and/or business continuity,
  • Efficiency and cost reduction,
  • Business and IT productivity.

The business case for implementing this revolutionary set of technologies is based on:

  • Cost reduction through centralization and simplification of IT infrastructure management across the entire enterprise and beyond to the public Cloud, increasing resource utilization,
  • Reallocation of systems management software spend from multiple, vendor-specific systems tied to hardware to a few, hardware-agnostic, data center-wide, systems-management solutions,
  • Tighter SLA management through the ability to measure end-to-end performance, dynamic reallocation of resources to respond to demand changes, elimination of single points-of-failure and faster fail-over through automated resource management in the event of a component failure,
  • Business value creation through a schema-less storage architecture and network that enhances the value of applications.
  • Much greater flexibility to respond to changing business needs, reducing time-to-market and reaction time to new or fast-changing business opportunities.

SLI, he writes, “should be thought of as a key enabler for Big Data projects, not a replacement”. However, he warns that because both technologies are immature and impacting the enterprise simultaneously, CIOs need to align their strategies for both and watch for overlaps or inconsistencies in architecture.

CIOs and CTO, he writes, must assess their existing IT strategy in light of the business impact of an SLI architecture, particularly as it relates to new projects and applications. They should choose ISVs that support key Open Source APIs and have SLI architectures in their future roadmap to avoid creating road-blocks to SLI adoption.

As with all Wikibon research, David’s full report is available without charge on the Wikibon site. IT professionals are invited to register for free membership in Wikibon, which allows them to post comments and questions on research and publish their own Alerts and white papers for the Wikibon community. It also gets them invitations to Wikibon Peer Incite meetings, at which their peers discuss their experiences with leading edge products designed to solve pressing IT problems.