The SDI Data center of the future is here… Now let’s distribute it more evenly

The science-fiction writer William Gibson once observed, “The future is already here — It’s just not very evenly distributed.” The same could be said of the today’s data centers.

On one hand, we have amazing new data centers being built by cloud service providers and the powerhouses of search, ecommerce and social media. These hyperscale data center operators are poised to deploy new services in minutes and quickly scale up to handle enormous compute demands. They are living in the future.

And then on the other hand, we have enterprises that are living with the data center architectures of an earlier era, a time when every application required its own dedicated stack of manually provisioned resources. These traditional enterprise data centers were built with a focus on stability rather than agility, scalability and efficiency—the things that drive cloud data centers.

Today, the weaknesses of legacy approaches are a growing source of pain for enterprises. While cloud providers enjoy the benefits that come with pooled and shared resources, traditional enterprises wrestle with siloed architectures that are resistant to change.

But there’s good news on the horizon. Today, advances in data center technologies and the rise of more standardized cloud services are allowing enterprise IT organizations to move toward a more agile future based on software-defined infrastructure (SDI) and hybrid clouds.

With SDI and the hybrid cloud approach, enterprise IT can now be managed independently of where the physical hardware resides. This fundamental transformation of the data center will enable enterprises to achieve the on-demand agility and operational efficiencies that have long belonged to large cloud service providers.

At Intel, we are working actively to deliver the technologies that will allow data centers to move seamlessly into the era of SDI and hybrid clouds. Here’s one example: The new Intel® Xeon® Processor E5 v3 family exposes a wide range of information on hardware attributes—such as security, power, thermals, trust and utilization—to the orchestration layer. With access to this information, the orchestration engine can make informed decisions on the best placement for workloads within a software-defined or cloud environment.

And here’s another of many potential examples: The new Intel Xeon processors incorporate a Cache QoS Monitoring feature. This innovation helps system administrators gain the utilization insights they need to ward off resource-contention issues in cloud environments. Specifically, Cache QoS Monitoring identifies “noisy neighbors,” or virtual machines that consume a large amount of the shared resources within a system and cause the performance of other VMs to suffer.

And that’s just the start. If space allowed, we could walk through a long list of examples of Intel technologies that are helping enterprise IT organizations move toward software-defined data centers and take advantage of hybrid cloud approaches.

This transformation, of course, takes more than new technologies. Bringing SDI and hybrid clouds to the enterprise requires extensive collaboration among technology vendors, cloud service providers and enterprises. With that thought on in mind, Intel is working to enable a broad set of ecosystem players, both commercial and open source, to make the SDI vision real.

One of the key mechanisms for bringing this vast ecosystem together is the Open Data Center Alliance (ODCA), which is working to shape the future of cloud computing around open, interoperable standards. With more than 300 member companies spanning multiple continents and industries, the ODCA is uniquely positioned to drive the shift to SDI and seamless, secure cloud computing. There is no equivalent organization on the planet that can offer the value and engagement opportunity of ODCA.

Intel has been a part of the ODCA from the beginning. As an ODCA technology advisor, we gathered valuable inputs from the ecosystem regarding challenges, usage models and value propositions. And now we are pleased to move from an advisory role to that of a board member. In this new role, we will continue to work actively to advance the ODCA vision.

Our work with the ecosystem doesn’t stop there. Among other efforts, we’re collaborating on the development of Redfish, a specification for data center and systems management that delivers comprehensive functionality, scalability and security. The Redfish effort is focused on driving interoperability across multiple server environments and simplifying management, to allow administrators to speak one language and be more productive.

Efforts like this push us ever closer to next-generation data centers — And a future that is more evenly distributed.

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