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Software-Defined Deluge: Promises, Pitfalls And Players

The software-defined environment is developing at breakneck speed as the industry looks at how -- and how much of -- the functionality of traditional data center hardware can be addressed via software.

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Software-Defined Whatever?

Ever since the term "software-defined networking," or SDN, moved from geek status to become a widely recognized trend via VMware's monster $1.2-billion acquisition of SDN startup Nicira, the IT industry has been assaulted with talk of software-defined storage, software-defined compute, software-defined data centers and, well, software-defined anything.

Yet for all the talk, software-defined is real. Software-defined refers to the abstraction of the functionality of some traditional data center hardware component such as a networking switch or storage array into software, adding some type of orchestration and automation, and making it available to applications via APIs -- either open source or proprietary -- to let those applications better control the functionality.

Turn the page to get a taste of the software-defined movement, starting with a look at what could happen to hardware vendors as well as a who's who in the industry.

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