The Stack Archive

VMware discusses the future of the Software-Defined Data Centre

Wed 18 Feb 2015

Joe_Baguley_small2[1]Joe Baguley is the Chief Technology Officer at VMware (EMEA), and joins us to discuss the Software Defined Data Centre. VMware will be delivering a keynote speech at Cloud Expo Europe and Data Centre World at the ExCel centre in London on 11th – 12th March.

VMware has been promoting the Software-Defined Data Centre for a number of years. Could you explain what you mean by this?

When we talk about the ‘Software-Defined data center’, we mean just that – all components of the data center, from the network to the storage to the compute – is controlled by software, meaning it’s no longer necessary to buy specific hardware to make the complete data center run effectively.

What progress has been made since the launch of Software-Defined data centre?

We recently announced updates to our enterprise storage solution, releasing Virtual SAN 6 which has been revised with a host of new capabilities, making it the ideal storage platform for virtual machines and business critical applications. For example, Virtual Volumes will offer new levels of storage integration to make third-party arrays natively aware of virtual machines, resulting in a more agile, cost-efficient method of managing storage infrastructure with the data center. These updates respond to customer demand for simple, cost-effective and cloud-aware storage solutions through an improved hypervisor-converged storage tier, representing the next phase of our software-defined storage – so we’re moving decidedly in this space! We also launched vSphere 6 on 2nd February, the foundation of the software-defined data center, featuring more than 650 new features and innovations including broad application support, long-distance live migration capabilities, instant clone technology and 3D graphics for desktop virtualization.

What are the main concepts of virtualized storage and how does it work in practice?

One of the main advantages of Virtual SAN is that we aggregate storage on servers into one Virtual SAN. This means that we can get local, higher performing storage for clients. Virtual SAN, running alongside vSphere environments, simplifies and streamlines storage provisioning and management. It automatically and dynamically matches requirements with underlying storage resources, cleanly automating many manual storage tasks and delivering more efficient and cost-effective operational services.

Have companies gone far enough in vitualising storage?

In our opinion, not yet! Organisations are only just starting to become aware of storage virtualization and the mechanics and benefits behind it. They are realising that they don’t need to buy a big storage array, and through appropriate levels of virtualization, can provide a better way to manage storage, simplifying operating system patching and driver requirements, regardless of storage topology.

Are companies nervous of virtulaizing? Is price a barrier to entry?

For any new storage product it usually takes five years to be accepted on to the market. This is usually two years in development, one year launching it and another two years while the market gains confidence in it. Virtual SAN has only been available for 18 months or so, but things are developing quickly. We already have some early adopters, and if I can use a Formula One analogy, we don’t need a 200 mph car, but the technology on the car, regenerative breaking, etc. trickles down to the affordable car on your driveway. Virtualization is for everyone, from SMEs to the enterprise.

For example, VMware EVO:RAIL combines VMware compute, networking and storage resources into a hyper-converged infrastructure appliance to create a simple, easy to deploy, all-in-one solution. It is designed to be up and running in 15 minutes and takes all the virtualized concepts and puts them in one packaged appliance. It’s a versatile and effective business solution.

What are the main concepts of virtualized storage?

The main advantages is that it makes IT infrastructure cheaper, is easier to set up, is simpler and enables businesses to focus on strategy and sales rather than the mechanics of the IT infrastructure. It gives IT the choice to run any OS on any X86 server and means the customer can choose any hard drive or server that they want.

Is the process of automation easy?

We make the process as easy as possible so you don’t need to be a specialist, any routine technician will be able to manage it.

Do you agree with IDC that the software-defined storage market is poised to expand faster than any other storage market?

Yes, definitely. We’re seeing increased demand for our storage solutions as enterprises look to complete their softwaredefined data center strategy and benefit from increased flexibility, scalability, capex and open savings that software-defined storage offers. Businesses are under increasing pressure to adapt and respond to customer demand and need an agile infrastructure to in place to facilitate this and ensure they stay competitive. As the market continues to gather pace, businesses will be looking to deploy a simple, high-performance storage for virtual machines that drastically reduces TCO and bridges the transition of storage from traditional virtual environments to their software-defined data center and cloud environments.

How will software-defined storage affect hardware manufacturers?

The market moves with the technology and as we move to a digital world, storage demands continue to explode in many IT environments, with no end in sight – more business models are now being driven by the need to acquire and harness ever growing mountains of information. For us, EVO:RAIL partners including EMC, Hitachi and NetApp are all storage providers and for Virtual SAN, the servers must have SSD and then go to a spinning disk, caching in the SSD and then storing on the hard drive. In theory it could get then go to other storage media, but that hasn’t been done yet.

Is it just an enterprise product at the moment?

Not really. I go to VMware user groups and at the moment most people are coming to learn about Virtual SAN and NSX. When I ask why they are coming across, it’s firstly because it’s a cool product that’s easy to configure and maintain, and finally the cost savings come third. These factors are not dependent on the size of the company.

What is the future for the Software-Defined Data Center?

Simply put, we want to make data centers invisible. The future is automation – with everything centrally controlled by software and a continued focus on the hybrid cloud. Ultimately, clients don’t want to run infrastructure, they want to run their business.

If you’d like to attend the VMware keynote address and meet up with the most influential cloud and data centre professionals in Europe, click on the following links to register for Cloud Expo Europe & Data Centre World at ExCel, London on the 11th-12th March.


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