Era of software-defined everything is apparent as value within data centers shifts from hardware to software

* Traditional data center architecture has failed to keep up with the data revolution.

* Underlying hardware is becoming less relevant, as the focus shifts to a virtualized
software layer.

This software allows for centralized control and reduces human intervention. As data pervades all aspects of our lives, we are moving into an era that can only be described as software-defined everything (SDE), where the value within data networks shifts decisively from hardware to software. Traditional data center architecture has failed to keep up with the data revolution, and SDE will overcome the problems, according to GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

Swati Verma, Associate Project Manager for Thematic Research at GlobalData, comments: “Data centers represent a significant investment cost for many companies and require continuous monitoring and management, raising opex costs. In a software defined data center (SDDC), the underlying hardware becomes less relevant, and the focus shifts to a virtualized software layer. This software allows for centralized control and reduces human intervention.”

The company’s latest report, ‘Software defined everything’, divides the players in SDE value chain into two layers, the infrastructure layer and the application layer.

Within the infrastructure layer, the players can be divided into three categories of SDDC equipment makers:
software defined servers: which separates the computational functions and operating system (OS) from the server hardwaresoftware defined storage: which provides software-based management tools for storage devices; and software defined networks: which decouples the software layer from the network infrastructure.

Verma continues: “In the infrastructure layer, the technology functionality, previously only achievable using specialist hardware, can be delivered using a combination of general-purpose computing hardware and software. The costly black box approach of traditional data center equipment manufacturers – like Cisco, HPE, IBM, and Dell – has been systematically undermined by commoditized white boxes designed by the internet service giants themselves and controlled by the software layer.

Within the application layer, there are the primary users of SDDC technology, split into four broad groups: IaaS cloud providers: the companies offering cloud-based infrastructure; hyperscalers: the internet giants with hyperscale data centersdata center operators; and telecom service providers.


Among the users of SDDC technology, the cloud providers have emerged as the biggest beneficiaries. The leading cloud infrastructure as a service (IaaS) providers are investing heavily in SDDC technology to lower costs and increase functionality as they compete for market share in the cloud sector.

Verma adds: “Internet companies such as Facebook and Alibaba also run their own hyperscale data centers where SDE technology is widely deployed. Telecom service providers are also using SDN to realize cost savings and achieve service agility through network automation.”

Information based on GlobalData’s report: Thematic Research: Software defined eveything

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