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Virtualization is being driven deeper into data centers to tie together converged storage, compute, and networking hardware resources. Recent SDxCentral survey results reveal several key trends in data center hardware, as virtualization drives this convergence.
Feedback from users indicates that converged data center solutions, which combine open hardware with virtualized software solutions, address some of their fundamental problems. They are drawn to this new breed of software-defined data center (SDDC) hardware by a number of factors, including optimized resource allocation and accelerated rollout of new functionality.
Interestingly, one of the most important findings in our research is that users see a high urgency in deploying virtualized, converged solutions to run their data centers. Seventy percent of respondents to SDxCentral’s “2016 Future of Converged Data Center Survey” ranked the importance of finding a converged data center solution in the next two to five years as “important” or “mission critical.” (These survey results will be detailed later this week when we release the full report.)
Several key industry changes are driving the creation of a new class of converged data center infrastructure. The disaggregation of software and hardware and the emergence of commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware means that data center functions can now be managed by virtualized software platforms. This converged data center infrastructure uses software to pool the compute, network, and storage hardware resources.
The end result of convergence is to simplify management and make it easier to: scale up or down; move and share resources to better support changing demand; optimize utilization; and reduce overall costs.
The benefits of virtualization are common themes across software-defined networking (SDN), network functions virtualization (NFV), and the converged data center. The disaggregation of software from COTS hardware diminishes the need for proprietary systems. As a result, we have seen storage, compute, and networking functions being abstracted. A wide range of converged data center hardware platforms combines different components, but the differentiator is largely in the software.
By consolidating all this software on a single, open, commodity server platform, organizations can:
- Simplify the infrastructure – reducing not only the number of hardware appliances, but also the number of software platforms needed.
- Scale out the infrastructure – adding components in a modular fashion, which can be plugged into the system, orchestrated, and configured using software-defined management.
- Improve the performance of key applications – coordinating all the resources necessary to maximize the availability and performance of Tier 1 applications throughout the environment.
- Maximize the return on investment (ROI) of the infrastructure – ensuring optimal resource utilization and minimizing capital outlays.
These trends have resulted in an explosion of new products and companies in the converged hardware infrastructure area. It has also helped drive one of the largest technology mergers in history, with Dell having acquired EMC and its subsidiary VMware. That deal recently won regulatory approval from the U.S. government and is expected to close in the next few months, pending the approval of state governments.
Dell, EMC, and VMware are very active in the converged data center space, as well as many other large technology companies such as Cisco, HPE, and VCE. Many of these companies have partnerships to jointly create products, and it will be interesting to see how the Dell/EMC merger changes the landscape.
Our upcoming “Future of Converged Data Center” report will cover the vast landscape of converged data center products and partnerships.