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The Future of the Software-Defined Data Center: Thoughts from Dell Technologies World

This article was originally posted May 11, 2018 on

Back in 2016, the major question diverse technology companies coalescing under the Dell Technologies umbrella was – how is that going to work?  With so many diverse characters and independent viewpoints, could it be woven together into an inspiring, harmonious universe, or would it be a discordant mess?

I think the answer at last week’s Dell Technologies World was pretty clear.  The Dell Technologies leadership team has been successful at creating a whole which is greater than the sum of its parts. And since all great combinations thrive on teamwork and connections, it made total sense that the Dell Technologies World Partner Summit was the center of the action.  Dell Technologies and its partners had great coverage on theCUBE, the live interview show on technology and innovation. I had a great opportunity to join the discussion on important tech trends along with Jim Aluotto, director of service provider business, Americas, for VMware. We talked with hosts Keith Townsend and John Walls about software-defined data centers, managed cloud services, the CenturyLink partnership with VMware, and more.

Here are a few key highlights from our discussion:

What is a software-defined data center and why is it important?

Customers benefit from software-defined data centers because they minimize the number of moving parts in an IT environment. In the past, managing private clouds meant provisioning the network, compute resources, storage, security, across numerous vendors and API frameworks. A software-defined data center provides a pre-integrated model for those resources, and it enables reliable automation, orchestration and management under one common stack.

Software-defined data centers enable software-defined managed services.  Service models like AIops and model-driven orchestration are changing how we define managed services in the cloud.  The CenturyLink Cloud Application Manager service capitalizes on reliable, predictable software-defined data centers to provide a wide range of managed services across these platforms. For example, we can offer our customers easy ways to model, deploy, and monitor applications in the cloud, but then also use analytics to help identify cost-saving opportunities and define best practices.

Why is the partnership with VMware critical for CenturyLink?

VMware Cloud Foundation provides the software-defined data center architecture that underpins our flagship private cloud offering. But from a higher perspective, VMware is a valuable partner because of VMware’s commitment to integration research and software reliability.

It’s always possible to build a private cloud out of diverse vendor pool. But integrating all of the components can be a complex, time-consuming, and costly process. And using an integration partner can lock you into a particular deployment model.

Working with VMware enabled CenturyLink to accelerate the time to market for our private cloud offering. The built-in software reliability makes it feasible for us to integrate with our private cloud offering just as confidently as we engineer to public cloud platforms.

What types of real conversations are you having with customers about the software-defined data center?

Given our history of helping customers with enterprise-grade virtualization using CenturyLink Private Cloud, many of our customers are now looking at software-defined data center architectures as the logic next step for their innovation initiatives.  When considering new innovations around IoT sensor integration, process re-engineering, or business intelligence, our customers appreciate that CenturyLink Private Cloud is every bit as reliable and self-service capable as public cloud services.  Our customers are excited by the possibilities of the software-defined datacenter, and we’re confident in our partnership with VMware to help them do heroic things for their business.

Watch our full discussion, with additional thoughts from Jim Aluotto at VMware.

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