The Growing Demand for Software-Defined Everything

The “software-defined everything” movement continues to garner attention from enterprises and smaller businesses, as organizations look for more cost-effective and agile ways to deliver IT services to users. Companies can now deploy software-defined data centers (SDDC), software-defined networking, software-defined networking security and software-defined storage, among other technologies.

There is rising demand for software-defined everything, and it’s being driven by two key factors, according to David Coyle, managing vice president at research firm Gartner. For one thing, IT organizations and service providers want to increase the efficiency of their data centers, which will result in lower costs. “Software-defined allows for full utilization of resources, more automation and the ability to purchase lower-cost hardware,” he points out.

The second factor is that IT organizations want to increase agility. “Software-defined allows the faster re-provisioning of resources, and allows IT organizations and service providers to respond quicker to business demands,” Coyle says.

The potential benefits of software-defined everything are compelling. They include greater automation; faster provisioning of IT resources; decreased hardware costs; faster time to implementation; and more efficient use of storage, networking and computing.

Expanding the Software-Defined Data Center

Tribune Media, which owns and operates television and digital news, entertainment and sports properties, has adopted SDDC architecture, with a focus on automation and cloud-based management.

In 2014, the company began replacing the IT infrastructure and applications it had relied on for years with VMware’s Software Defined Data Center stack of compute, network, storage and security services combined with the vendor’s vRealize management suite. The solution includes NSX, the network virtualization platform for the SDDC.

The shift has been gradual over the last several years, with Tribune Media steadily expanding the SDDC, reports David Giambruno, senior vice president and CIO. The move began with virtual servers, then moved to the network and finally encompassed the storage-area network (SAN).

“The driver was the split of Tribune into two public companies, Tribune Publishing and Tribune Media,” Giambruno says. “Publishing retained the legacy infrastructure and application portfolio, and we designed the next-generation of enterprise IT with the goal of delivering a ‘frictionless’ enterprise—from infrastructure to applications.”

The frictionless enterprise includes giving the business teams an “iPad” view of the world, he explains. “That means updating your application portfolio,” Giambruno says. “The SDDC enables what I call ‘indiscriminate computing’—the ability to move my stack and all of its data anywhere I need it.”

Tribune Media is now operating its core data center on SDDC, including virtual servers, network and SAN. “We have only five physical servers running an operating system,” he says. “The rest are all hosts for virtual machines.”

The SDDC platform has dramatically changed the way the company operates its data center, including security, the management of big data and application deployment. The use of vRealize simplifies the process of configuring application-centric network and security services.

As the company provisions, manages and decommissions virtual machines, databases and applications, network and security services are automatically configured based on predefined policies.