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The software-defined data center has three primary requirements, VMware's Raghuram said.
The first, a virtualized server environment, is already here. Raghuram said the customer base is on its way to hit the 80-percent-virtualized mark within the next four years, during which the number of workloads running on virtual servers will continue to grow.
The second is virtualized networks. Raghuram said physical networks require manual processes to set up and are therefore not useful for cloud or other on-demand infrastructures. That, in turn, leads to under-utilization of data centers.
However, for a flexible data center architecture, the network must be decoupled from the hardware, Raghuram said. "By making the network virtualized, we can increase the utilization of the data center," he said.
To meet the challenge of virtualized networks, VMware announced this week that it will merge its vCloud Networking and Security (vCNS) product line with the Nicira Network Virtualization Platform (NVP), which it received with its July acquisition of Nicira, into a single product family based on a common technology foundation.
That family, VMware NSX, will work with any hypervisor and any cloud management system, and it will provide open interfaces so technology partners can attach other networking services such as VPNs or firewalls, Raghuram said.
The third primary requirement for a software-defined data center is software-defined storage because of a need to take away the ties to physical storage hardware that can make the provisioning process slow and complicated, Raghuram said.
VMware already offers Virtual SAN, or vSAN, which clusters local disk and flash storage in multiple servers to offer a virtual SAN that's highly integrated with vSphere.
VMware also offers Virtual Volumes (VVOLs) that allows such storage services as snapshots, cloning or replication to be done on a per-virtual machine basis in a storage array.
As the software-defined data center model becomes increasingly complete, customers will be looking at how to adopt it for their cloud infrastructures, Raghuram said.
With the introduction of its new application, VMware IT Business Management Suite, VMware hopes to tie its software-defined data center strategy closely to the ways many of its partners work with the cloud. VMware IT Business Management Suite, Raghuram said, allows the IT department to become a services broker and take an active role in internal and external sourcing of the services. "The software-defined data center is the infrastructure for the cloud," he said.