CIOs should not under-estimate the impact of the forthcoming world of the software defined network (SDN) and software-defined data centre (SDDC), which may be less than two years away.
SDN architectures separate network control and forwarding functions, so network control becomes directly programmable. The underlying network infrastructure is abstracted from applications and services. This approach makes the network more manageable, cost-effective, and adaptable; more suitable for the high-bandwidth, dynamic nature of today's applications.
The SDDC is currently an IT-as-a-service (ITaaS) vision for infrastructure, extending virtualisation concepts to the data centre’s complete resources. In an SDDC, all elements of the infrastructure - networking, storage, CPU and security - are virtualised and delivered as a service.
A vision, yes, but, at a recent EMEA analysts briefing, Logicalis Group CTO, Chris Gabriel, cautioned CIOs not to put SDN and SDDC approaches in the ‘far away so can they can be ignored’ basket.
“If we think these things are only optional because they are two years away, I think we’re in for a really big shock this year and next year,” Gabriel said. “Analysts Gartner and IDC are saying that the software defined world is accelerating so fast that even they can’t keep up with how important it’s going to be.
“I think in one or two years from now, we will be delivering on-premise converged platforms as a service. The customer will just see it as a consumption-based service and we will be bundling all the hardware. In fact, we are doing this today in many of our countries but we will see this as more of the norm.”
Gabriel sees five key technology areas that will be part of the new SDN world of the near future: Data centre, network, mobility, user collaboration and security. Included in these are workspace experiences, in terms of desktop and VDI.
“We need to take our customers through these maturity models and to bring this all together through IT Service Management (ITSM), the automation orchestration layer,” he said.
A Logicalis’ 10 million Euro (US$13.2 million) acquisition last year, which led to the creation of Logicalis Service Management Consulting, has enabled the company to have new ITSM conversations with CIOs in Europe and North America, about how they run IT, not just about platforms and storage capacity. Logicalis helps Shell run their entire IT function from a service management perspective.
“ITSM is a very different conversation to have with a CIO and it’s a very strategic conversation to have with a CIO,” Gabriel said. “How can I help you design and develop a service portfolio for your internal IT function, is a different conversation to ‘what are you doing around service, storage and networking’.”
Logicalis is focused on creating the Service Defined Enterprise (SDx) which gives enterprises freedom to consider services from whatever source makes the most business and financial sense. IT transforms from being the sole provider of technology solutions to being the ‘trusted advisor’ that sets the standards by which all technology services and solutions consumed will be measured.
A Service Defined Enterprise is driven by services, not by technology. It is an organisation that recognizes that services off their own internal platform is what their business line (business customers), are looking for.
Gabriel said the Service Defined CIO will understand they need to maintain and build business choice and experience, whilst maintaining business control.
“It will be how they manage service partners to build the right portfolio of lifecycle or managed services they want to use, and secondly how they can manage the marketplace of cloud services, and build that consistent view for their internal customers,” he told the analysts.
Service Defined CIOs will tell their organisations ‘you can choose what IT you need, you can choose the services you need and then we will decide whether we build them internally, but we’ll only build them internally if they can be as good as, or nearly as good as what the market is offering, or what you need as an internal business customer. Or we’ll go find a partner who can deliver what you need as a managed service. We’ll buy in that managed service, we won’t give a problem away, we’ll buy in a service from a managed services provider, or we’ll take something from the cloud – but we’ll do that in a managed way, a secure way. We’ll do that in a controlled way, so business gets the choice it needs but it also maintains the control that the business will demand’.
To find out more about service-led transformation and what it means to today’s CIOS, click here.