Cloud infrastructure is softer with software

In this digital age, disruption has become a continuum. Consumers’ needs and expectations have been rapidly evolving. It is imperative for companies to be agile with the way they operate to meet changing demands and shifting trends to sustain and succeed in a dynamic and competitive Image-(197)market. Robust infrastructure with powerful processors, next-gen capabilities and flexibility is enabling organizations to successfully address challenges by providing highly available, scalable and secure services to the end users. However, the power of processing, computing and storing data and connecting resources across the globe as a single unit equally involves complexities and multitude of challenges.

Decision makers are continuously challenged to adopt an infrastructure that can withstand the technology advancements. While migrating to virtual servers, unlike storage and networks which provide easier scalability, we need to consciously maintain the stability, cost, performance, and availability of services to the end user.

Cloud Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), adds new features that enable organizations to move virtual servers without any downtime, scaling up the servers faster with an on-demand service offering and pay per use model. These features are achieved through dynamism in infrastructure architecture by viewing in a distributed and decentralized pattern. However, these pose some challenges specifically around provisioning and de-provisioning services, networking geographies and replicating data across the globe. Increase in the demand and features come with more complexities. Developing software to address the complexity by looking at infrastructure as a code, is a way to address these challenges. Software engineers now not only contribute in developing applications, but also extend to solve the complexity in operations, automation and orchestration of services, by focusing on IaaS.

Software softens the cloud infrastructure in computing, storing data and networking resources in a virtual environment. Named as “Software Defined Data Center” (SDDC), it offers an innovative path to compute, store, network, deploy, mobilize and analyze to mention a few. Within an umbrella of Software Defined Everything (SDE) technology, infrastructure is highly virtualized at all layers and delivered as a service. The data center is controlled by maintaining the hardware configurations on the automated software system. The responsibility of this service include handling complexities in the infrastructure ecosystem, and managing and controlling distributed data center with improved utilization and an ability to automate.

SDDC is built through orchestrating multiple components of its own, that in turn is software defined. Some of the major components of SDDC are:

  • Software Defined Computing (SDC). Provisioning cloud servers through software includes identifying the best fit of the server based on its configuration and scalability. This is an offshoot of virtualization technology. In addition to this, SDC also provides live migration of virtual servers with negligible downtime and balances the incoming load by spanning more such servers, for seamless service availability to the end users.
  • Software Defined Storage (SDS). Automation and effective utilization of storage resources in a data center provide functionalities such as de-duplication, replication, snapshots, automated backup recovery, etc. This leads to a flexible and cost effective storage infrastructure that possesses the ability to automate.
  • Software Defined Networking (SDN). Connection of virtual servers to the real switches and routers of data center by handling control plane and data plane hand-in-hand, enables on-demand provisioning, automated load balancing, stream-lined real infrastructure and provides an ability to bridge network resources with the application.
  • Network Functions Virtualization (NFV). Virtualization of the physical network functions like routing and switching is a one-step advancement in software defined networking. Virtual servers along with virtual networks perform the role of physical routers and switches, thus bringing down the huge capital cost of data centers.

Hardware and software trendsetters have already shifted focus of their service offerings to include and promote components of software defined data centers. Computing and software companies like Intel, IBM and HP focus on SDC and SDS while Cisco plays a major role in SDN and NFV.

Leading organizations have begun to proactively collaborate with open source communities to develop software defined services and create a consistent and standardized infrastructure to minimize complexity, effort duplication and cost. This has also empowered cloud adoption with many benefits including agility, flexibility, elasticity, scalability, high availability, speed, cost efficacy and better quality. The complexity of managing infrastructure with the software defined strategy addresses many fundamental issues, however, when viewed with a futuristic eye newer issues are bound to arise with evolving advancements.