With the technical and market parameters of SDE still taking shape, CIOs are in no rush to adopt, despite the hype going into overdrive.
Just as everybody starts getting comfortable with the once derided term “cloud”, the IT industry marketing machine foists a new one on us.
And although “software-defined everything” (SDE) heralds a return to the tried-and-tested three-letter acronym (TLA) formula, its precise meaning to many CIOs is as nebulous as its more descriptive predecessor used to be.
Like cloud before it, SDE is being used as a catch-all term for all the latest technologies and approaches that promise to take us to that long-touted nirvana of true IT flexibility and agility through advances in virtualisation.
Clearly, it’s a vital approach for the giant cloud operators and providers looking to build out vast, scalable datacentres with industrial scale and efficiency. Indeed, it’s from developments like Facebook’s Open Compute Project (an initiative to drive standardisation and automation right through the datacentre) that SDE has largely taken its cue. But does the approach really translate to enterprises more broadly, and if so is now the time to be doing something about it?
While cloud has today largely come to mean a way of easily spinning up virtual servers, processing power and storage – and the services and applications hosted on them – SDE refers to the idea of virtualising everything in the datacentreand beyond, from compute and storage to networks and devices. This is meant to give IT departments the capability to automate all their IT provisioning and management entirely through software, using standard commodity hardware that will effectively become invisible to them. Finally, we’re told, CIOs will be able to focus wholly on delivering a fast, efficient, fully scalable IT service to their organisations without the inevitable bottlenecks of integration and manual configuration commonly encountered with today’s public and private clouds.
Some analysts are bullish. IDC predicts the market for software-defined networking (SDN) alone will grow from less than $1bn in 2014 to $3.7bn by 2016 and $8bn by 2018. Gartner claims that by 2017 more than half of all enterprises will have adopted an architectural approach similar to that of the cloud giants. Frost & Sullivan, meanwhile, says the hypergrowth starts here – at least in Asia-Pacific. “2015 is seen to be the year of SDE as the software-defined revolution spreads beyond the boundaries of the datacentre,” the analyst recently predicted.