By Pat Gelsinger
The $2 trillion Information Technology industry is in the early stages of a tectonic shift, as we transition from the previous Client-Server platform to the Mobile Cloud era. For the first time in history, we’re seeing dramatic changes driven by both the consumer and enterprise worlds. In many ways, everything is up in the air. At this critical juncture, the demands on IT are greater than ever. Whether you’re an individual consumer or a business leader, you want essentially the same thing: instantaneous access to the apps and data you care about, without hassles or hiccups, and with confidence and compliance.
As we make this massive shift from the PCs and servers of old to the Mobile Cloud era, we’re experiencing a fundamental restructuring of how IT value gets created and consumed. Simply put, software has usurped hardware as the place where value resides. This is driven largely by well-established laws of technology: software can be quickly adapted, programmed and automated. By contrast, hardware is inflexible, labor-intensive and specialized. As a guy who spent 30+ years in the hardware world, this is a difficult fact to acknowledge – yet it’s undeniable.
To wit, we have entered the age of the Software-Defined Data Center (SDDC). The SDDC is a data center where everything has been virtualized and infrastructure can be delivered as software on demand. This software-defined approach will become the model for every leading data center in the world because it represents a radical and powerful change agent for the enterprise. At its core, the SDDC empowers IT to move at the speed of the business, by rapidly delivering apps and services as they are needed.
The technical argument for the Software-Defined Data Center is airtight: Virtualize all components, abstract the functionality, pool the resources and automate the processes. In this model, hardware becomes increasingly invisible – seen solely through a layer of dynamic, scalable and agile software. Many of the core elements of this approach have been pioneered by companies like Google, Amazon and Facebook. But while they’ve accomplished a great deal, their implementations have been specifically designed for their specialized environments. Now is the time for us, as an industry, to take these valuable learnings and apply the software-defined approach for the benefit of all businesses – and all the millions of applications that power our economy.
Next Step: Virtualize Your Network
Compute virtualization was just the opening act of the SDDC story. According to VMware’s analysis, by virtualizing roughly 70 percent of our customers’ compute workloads over the past decade, businesses saved billions of dollars and in the process, they accomplished something else: They made it easy to spin up new applications in literally seconds. This, in turn, exposed a frustrating reality: As app provisioning has sped up exponentially, we have discovered that the operating model of the network is simply not equipped to keep pace. In fact, the network is now a barrier to achieving the full benefits of virtualization, because the movement of all of these dynamic apps is now severely constrained by the limitations of the physical network. The fact is today’s network is operationally intensive, requiring significant manual intervention and vendor-specific expertise at every turn.
The answer to this challenge is to virtualize your network. This represents the next chapter in our industry’s inevitable move to a software-defined approach to IT. Network virtualization takes the fast and fluid operational model of a virtual machine (VM) and extends that across your network. It advances networking with new levels of automation, programmability, and management by leveraging the power of software. Network virtualization also transforms the economics of networking within the data center by reducing the need for costly, proprietary networking hardware. As we build virtual networks we are strengthening the foundations of the hybrid cloud, which gives businesses the ability to move valuable apps and data seamlessly between public and private cloud environments.
Charting the Course to a Software-Defined Future
Modern business is here today. It’s global, competitive, collaborative, and extremely dynamic. But too often, the technology infrastructure supporting these businesses is limping along – slow, inefficient, brittle, and generally incapable of keeping up. The best companies in the world are charting a path to a software-oriented model of IT where infrastructure drives strategic advantage. IT professionals with the courage to embrace this new reality – and let go of the hardware-centric models of the past – will change the landscape of business forever. The future is bright. Let’s move forward.
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