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GCN : January 2015
returns; many organizations are able to save on both operations and development staff time while increas- ing revenues by delivering modern applications and IT services. In addi- tion, there are often additional funds available to invest in the innovative technologies necessary to satisfy user demand. And more than one-third of software-defined enterprises are more responsive to IT requests than their less mature counterparts after moving to a highly-automated soft- ware-defined infrastructure. The key to success, says Jad El-Zein, principal engineer for VMware’s public sector division, is to take a holistic approach to the software-defined enterprise. That means looking at the enterprise as an ecosystem of hardware and software providers with one vendor as the centerpoint. If, for example, ROI: THE SOFTWARE-DEFINED ENTERPRISE VMware is that centerpoint, VMware is responsible for ensuring that all applications and devices in the enter- prise are integrated and automated. Integration is another key to success; point solutions drive up the manage- ment, overhead and complexity of the environment, reducing the potential for positive ROI. By delivering solu- tions that are integrated and leverage each other’s technology, positive ROI is much easier to achieve. “Our approach is to integrate first, then automate, and then augment... where possible,” El-Zein explains. “Augmenting means inserting VMware’s networking and storage technologies when it makes sense, usually during refresh cycles, to gradually move the enterprise toward a true software-defined enterprise.” Federal agencies are beginning to understand the importance of the software-defined enterprise, and are taking steps towards implementing it. According to MeriTalk, 66 percent of federal agencies are working toward a software-defined data center, while 55 percent are moving in the direction of software-defined networking and 59 percent towards a software-defined storage strategy. Software-Defined Enterprise ROI While virtualization has brought agencies an exceptional return on investment over the past decade, there is much more to be gained by moving to a software-defined enter- prise. The integration of the entire ecosystem, fueled by higher levels of automation, and a holistic man- agement approach largely accounts for the higher ROI. For example, replacing daily, repetitive or complex The software-defined enterprise consists of three major parts: net- work, storage and data center. Software-defined networking SDN controls network resources, including switches and routers, with open protocols, enabling agencies to maintain tighter control of network resources. It also automates many network-related processes, such as provisioning and load balancing, while allowing agencies to scale network resources up and down as demand requires. This is particularly useful for seasonal spikes, which many agencies experience. For example, a natural disaster or tax season can temporarily increase the need for more resources, which go back to lower levels after the spike. The federal government is on board with the concept of soft- ware-defined networking. A recent study found that 61 percent of feder- al IT management executives and IT professionals expect SDN to play a role in network purchase decisions. Software-defined storage Data storage is a major pain point for government agencies, mainly due to the continued fast growth of gov- ernment data. According to a study from the 1105 Public Sector Media Group, government data is expected to increase at a rate of about 30 per- cent each year. The need for more and more storage is one reason why federal agencies are moving forward with software-defined storage solu- tions, either as an add-on to physical storage or for new data centers. With software-defined storage, a virtualized storage controller man- ages storage provisioning, as well as communication between storage devices and networks and servers. Other features are high availability, the ability to support hardware from multiple vendors, enablement of policy-driven provisioning of storage volumes and centralized manage- ment. All of this means that when an agency needs to provision storage for a particular application, service or workload, it doesn’t have to buy a new storage array. Software-defined storage lowers operational expenses by automating complex or frequent storage opera- tions. It also simplifies the manage- ment of different classes of storage using storage virtualization technology and integrated management tools. SDS contributes to lower capital expenditures by reducing the number of physical storage devices required. Software-defined data center The goal of SDDC is to free the application layer from the hardware layer through virtualization, automation, orchestration and the use of cloud computing. Everything is controlled and managed centrally, via software, and is fully aligned with application and service requirements. SDDC works seamlessly across heterogeneous IT infrastructure, and provides repeatable configurations of software and infra- structure for workload deployment, along with capacity management, cloud management and configuration management. Over time, SDDC helps enterprises transform the way it delivers IT at lower cost, with more flexibility, automation and efficiency. Key Components of the Software-Defined Enterprise VMware_GCN_4pgAd_final2.indd 2 1/9/15 12:46 PM
November and December 2014