The term “software-defined” has been making its way around the technology world for a few years now. We have software-defined datacenters, software-defined storage, software-defined networking, software-defined computing, and now there’s software-defined everything. But many people still seem to be unsure what “software-defined” really means, hence why so many people are still so quick to dismiss the whole concept of being “software-defined” as nothing more than a buzzword, catch phrase, or marketing gimmick.
Since “software-defined” is a somewhat abstract concept, some people have difficulty defining something intangible. Put simply, a software-defined datacenter is a datacenter and infrastructure in a bubble. With software-defined datacenters, the entire infrastructure is virtualized and delivered as a service. The entire datacenter can be controlled through software.
Software-defined datacenters are defined by two main characteristics: abstraction and pooled resources that can be very quickly reconfigured. If resources need to be re-provisioned, this can be done very quickly through software controls instead of having to completely reconfigure hardware or your infrastructure.
Another key feature of “software defined” is improved efficiency. When asked to explain the concept of “software-defined,” Brian Kirsch of the Milwaukee Area Technical College said, “Datacenters are no longer rooms that organizations show off to potential clients. Instead, they’re becoming a collection of servers running hypervisors. The real highlights that companies are showcasing are the agility, scalability, and redundancy that software-defined products give them.” The era of a huge datacenter being seen as impressive is over. Now large datacenters are often seen as inefficient and more of a hinderance than anything else. Software-defined datacenters aren’t about needing more to do more or having to make do with less. Software-defined datacenters are all about taking the resources you already have and getting the absolute most out of them without having to pay more to do so.