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Software-Defined Data Centers: Seeing Through the Hype 39

Nerval's Lobster writes "In case you didn't catch it yesterday, AllThingsD ran a piece endorsing the idea of the software-defined data center. That's a venue where hordes of non-technical mid- and upper-level managers will see it and (because of the credibility of AllThingsD) will believe software-defined data centers are not only possible, but that they exist and that your company is somehow falling behind because you personally have not sketched up a topology on a napkin or brought a package of it to install. If mid-level managers in your datacenter or extended IT department have not been pinged at least once today by business-unit managers offering to tip them off to the benefits of software-defined data centers—or demand that they buy one—then someone should go check the internal phone system because not all the calls are coming through. Why was AllThingD's piece problematic? First, because it's a good enough publication to explain all the relevant technology terms in ways that even a non-technical audience can understand. Second, it's also a credible source, owned by Dow Jones & Co. and spun off by The Wall Street Journal. Third, software-defined data centers are genuinely happening—but it's in the very early stages. The true benefits of the platform won't arrive for quite some time—and there's too much to do in the meantime to talk about potential endpoints. Fortunately, there are a number of resources online to help tell hype from reality."
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Software-Defined Data Centers: Seeing Through the Hype

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  • Just call it Software Defined Cloud 2.0 and be done with it already.

    • by mwvdlee ( 775178 )

      Would it be out-of-date to call it a Virtual Cloud?

    • by khasim ( 1285 )

      I think they already did. From TFA:

      Sometimes the hype tends to pan out and concepts such as âoee-commerceâ become a normal way to shop.

      60% of the time, it works every time.

      Either way, the term âoesoftware definedâ is with us to stay, and there is real meaning and value behind it if you look past the hype.

      Except that the term "software defined" is not itself defined except by whatever marketing department wants to make it fit their product.
      And the term will eventually be replaced with ano

      • YetAnotherAbstractionLayer

        There's already a lot of people who know puppet or chef but not much else (and think they know something). I think the trend is going to continue, ultimately spreading to the distro's themselves as they become less malleable, less flexible, with fewer differences between them (Hi Lennart). We'll have frameworks for frameworks. Linux will be Windows.

        And then the trend will reverse. The current crop of 20-somethings will be in their 30's and "reinventing Unix".

  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Saturday June 15, 2013 @03:06PM (#44016505) Homepage

    We're no longer constrained by the need to have deep specialized knowledge in the low-level components to get basic access to this technology.

    That's what it is really about. The unit of computational resource is a standardized, empty server. It's not "maintained", it's wiped and reloaded. If something goes wrong with it, its load is sent elsewhere, and eventually the unit will be replaced by someone who unplugs it and plugs in another one. Nobody in the data center really has to have much of an idea of what's going on with the computers. Their concerns are power, cooling, cabling, and physical security.

    Most of them will be paid at security-guard levels.

    • Most of them will be paid at security-guard levels.

      Wait a minute ... are we talking about USA-Rent-a-cop security guards, or sultan of dubai security guards?

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I'm tempted to do a snarky rewrite of your post, like this:

      Much the same could be said for the future of programming: soon, one will use these newfangled "libraries" and "macros" for every task, never stopping to consider hand-optimizing their assembly code, because there will be no assembly-code gurus left. Nobody engaging in this sort of plug-and-chug "programming" will really have to have much of an idea of what's going on with the computers. Their concerns are stringing together pre-packaged libraries with just enough logic to solve real-world problems. Most of them will be paid at security-guard levels.

      I'm afraid, though, that the point would be lost in the sarcasm. When datacenter jobs are basically custodial/janitorial/security in nature, progress will have been made. Minds that are able and willing to tackle difficult systems should be applied to life's real problems, not to the OCD maintenance of computer systems in a data warehouse. This is the modern analogy of the industrial revolution: what artists (gurus) once handled with skills finel

    • As systems become more inter-connected and more dependent on standard components, they also become more difficult to diagnose. Problems in one seemingly benign part of the system can affect it and render it unusable, and now those parts may be spread around virtual datacenters and servers. We need OS guru's now more than ever, but it's also expected that those guru's know many different technologies (hence, DevOps and other automation-oriented skills). It's the corollary to what's happening in development:

  • Wut. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bmo ( 77928 ) on Saturday June 15, 2013 @03:06PM (#44016509)

    It's as if there's something genetic in MBA types that makes them abuse English so awfully as this summary exemplifies.

    It's a good thing that tomorrow is Bloomsday.


    • It's as if there's something genetic in MBA types that makes them abuse English so awfully as this summary exemplifies.

      Never fear! See this "software-defined" craving as an opportunity . . . replace your MBAs with "software-defined management!"

  • by Osgeld ( 1900440 ) on Saturday June 15, 2013 @03:10PM (#44016531)

    the other day I saw a summary that was not even a complete sentence, now today I see one that could have had all the words above the third point removed and it would not have made any difference because its just some asshat getting on the whine train about management.

    somewhere there is a middle, maybe one decade slashdot can consistently hit it!

    • Yep. I am wondering if I read the same article. Far from being a ringing endorsement of some buzz phrase (which I'd never heard of), it starts off with a warning about falling for hype and then continues to describe what a software defined data center actually is and finishes with some prognostications about what will be.

      I think the main point missing is one that any IT manager will see. (Mind you, I labor under the impression that IT managers, who usually do have some kind of business sense, understand tha

  • The article on robot controlled data centers received warm reception. This article seems more critical. It simply explains what Amazon is already doing, automation through programmed check boxes.
    I'm not talking about some goofy VB controlled hack either. When you automate something, you better have a good understanding of the process. Pushing your labor off to users with credit cards willing to pay for the privilege has been the business model for quite some time.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    ...you would point them at something like this, instead of a Wired piece.


  • Another senseless buzz-defined buzz phrase.
  • Really, pointing to an article which (repeatedly) says the acronym for Software Defined Data Center is "SDDN?" That refers to Software Defined Data Network. The latter isn't limited to data centers, although that's where the most clear benefit lies. SDDN is just a single part of SDDC, which also make use of virtualization of compute and storage resources.
  • I'm going to make me a software defined sandwich get in my software defined car and drive myself to my software defined work where I fix software designed problems (well the last part is at least technically true)

    But seriously is this the new synergy? The latest buzzword craze? When did doing some fancy programming suddenly mean we had to slap the word software-defined on everything?

    I should pre-emptively go out and patent the process of doing anything "in software", because "on a computer" was sooo 2012.

  • "More than an actual technology, SDDN is the culmination of many other efforts at abstracting, consolidating, managing, provisioning, load balancing and distributing datacenter assets." Which is a fancy way of saying it's a bunch of commodity PCs running Xen, attached to some f***ing big Juniper QFabric switch with some PHP scripts to let middle-managers bring up servers without knowing where they are. It's just that right now our stage in the hype cycle [wikipedia.org] is the Peak of Inflated Expectations.

  • ``I imagine the software defined data center to be a Fantasia-like world where Mickey is the IT staff and the brooms are networking, storage, compute and security.''

    Has the author actually seen Fantasia? Mickey's attempt to control the brooms turned out to be a disaster. I imagine the software-defined data center as being a boon for consultants (the Sorcerer?) who come in and clean up the ensuing mess that the Corporate Mickeys create.

    One suspects that the software defined data center is going to have so

Executive ability is deciding quickly and getting somebody else to do the work. -- John G. Pollard