Greg Ferro is a network architect and engineer specializing in designing and deploying data centers, including network fabrics, data security, cloud, and Internet. Based in the United Kingdom, Ferro hosts the weekly Packet Pushers Podcast, where he interviews network engineers, vendors, and industry figures on a range of highly technical topics. He also is the author of Ethereal Mind, a blog about data networking design and implementation. The 20-year IT veteran and thought leader will be a moderator and speaker at Software-Defined Data Center Symposium 2013 (#SDDC13) in September.
Your panel at SDDC 2013 will discuss how and when to build a private software-designed data center (SDDC) or rent public SDDC capabilities. Do you think the SDDC is a real concept? Or is it some figment of a vendor’s imagination?
Ferro: It certainly is a real concept. You can deploy and use SDDC today by heading over to Amazon EC2 or VMware vCHS and configuring a few virtual server instances. Now, let’s add a VM [virtual machine] each for the firewall and load balancer. Finally, add a VM to be a router/VPN, and add that to the Internet area. You’ve used no hardware and done it all from an interface over the web. In the near future, these tools will be mainstream for enterprises to consume in their private cloud.
What is significant about the SDDC? What do you envision as some of the major changes in the data center?
Ferro: I see that there are two major changes in the enterprise — operation and security. The concepts of a software-defined data center based on templates changes the way we deploy servers. We can replace automated build scripts for each server with prepared templates for an application as a group of servers.
One of the greatest challenges in infrastructure is creating secure and controlled separation between applications and services. What we need is “application multi-tenancy,” but current operating systems, networking, and storage don’t create secure and viable security implementation.
Software-defined data centers create new tools for single physical data centers to be virtualized into multiple virtual data centers, each as an individual security zone.
What are some of the key questions and concepts IT will have to figure out in the transition, especially around the balance between public and private?
Ferro: The biggest transition is with storage and security. As always, networking is leading the technology transition because it is the vital foundation that all other services must consume. Software-defined networking (SDN) is delivering the tools and services today for the next generation of storage to arrive and for security teams to transition to better models and processes.
Security teams face a significant overhaul in security practice where firewalls and IPS are relegated to minor roles, and automated compliance checking and auditing are the tools of the future.
Who do you think will benefit the most from attending your panel at #SDDC13?
Ferro: Although it’s tempting to say everyone, it’s probably most interesting to those people who are involved in the architecture and strategy of the private and public cloud. The debate process is an excellent way to challenge your own ideas and conceptions so as to begin understanding how you can bring the relevant aspects of SDDC to your area of responsibility.