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The SDDC Seems Cool … But What Do I Do with It?

By David Gallant, VMWare Professional Services Consultant

Lately I’ve been receiving requests from customers to talk to them about the software-defined data center (SDDC). So I start to explain software-defined networking, software-defined storage, automated provisioning, and self-service portals.

And that’s when I notice the customer looking excited, but also slightly confused.

Last week at SAP TechEd 2013, I was in the middle of just such a talk when I decided to stop and I ask the customer why he looked puzzled.

His response? “That’s great, but what do I do with all that SDDC stuff?”

That’s when the light bulb came on. He was right to question me—why build a software-defined data center if you have no clue what you’re going to do with it?

To really harvest the investment in your SDDC, you need to be building toward a specific set of goals. We don’t build data centers without a purpose; and that purpose for SDDC, as it’s always been, is the application.

In most cases the best data centers have been purpose-designed and built around the organization’s business-critical applications; for instance SAP, Oracle, or Microsoft applications.

I’ll concentrate for now on SAP—if you can architect an SDDC for SAP, you can roll those concepts over to pretty much any other application.

With SAP, you’ll want to get a few key technologies in place. The first is vCloud Automation Center (vCAC), which will allow you to take full advantage of the advanced automation capabilities with the SDDC. vCAC is also the foundation for handling the Service Catalog Portal.

You’ll also need the ability to connect and see across technologies, for which I recommend vCenter Orchestrator. On the SAP side, Landscape Virtualization Manager (LVM) is key to helping you manage your SAP environment.

The combination of vCAC and LVM provides a set of tools that the VMware Administrator and SAP Basis Administrator can use to create the all-important self-service portal, which allows you to automate the provisioning and decommissioning of landscapes.

An important decision you’ll need to make—based on your own use case— is which tool should host the portal. If your VM Administrators are the keepers of the keys for infrastructure, including SAP, then place the portal in vCAC with calls out to LVM for SAP-specific tasks. On the other hand, if your SAP Basis Administrators have always been in charge of their infrastructure, then place the portal in LVM and create a tab inside for vCAC access.

With some setup, the VM Administrator can create an SAP-specific pool of resources and assign them to the Basis team. That way the Basis team has control over its SAP landscapes with all the transparency and tools it is used to, and the VMware team maintains control over the infrastructure using tools it is used to.

David Gallant has worked at VMware for more than 2 years and has 20+ years experience in the IT industry. He specializes in virtualizing SAP, Microsoft SQL Server, and Oracle Non-RAC.

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