For companies worldwide, future of IT is software-defined

Danny Tam
ComputerWorld Hong Kong

The $2 trillion IT industry is in the early stages of a tectonic shift, as we transition from the previous client-server platform to the mobile cloud era.

For the first time in history, we're seeing dramatic changes driven by both the consumer and enterprise worlds. In many ways, everything is up in the air. At this critical juncture, the demands on IT are greater than ever. Whether you're an individual consumer or a business leader, you want essentially the same thing: instantaneous access to the apps and data you care about, without hassles or hiccups, and with confidence and compliance.

As we make this massive shift from the PCs and servers of old to the mobile cloud era, we're experiencing a fundamental restructuring of how IT value gets created and consumed. Simply put, software has usurped hardware as the place where value resides. This is driven largely by well-established laws of technology: software can be quickly adapted, programmed and automated. By contrast, hardware is inflexible, labor-intensive and specialized. As a guy who spent 30 plus years in the hardware world, this is a difficult fact to acknowledge -- yet it's undeniable.

To wit, we have entered the age of the software-defined data center (SDDC). The SDDC is a data center where everything has been virtualized and infrastructure can be delivered as software on demand. This software-defined approach will become the model for every leading data center in the world because it represents a radical and powerful change agent for the enterprise. At its core, the SDDC empowers IT to move at the speed of the business, by rapidly delivering apps and services as they are needed.

The technical argument for the software-defined data center is airtight: virtualize all components, abstract the functionality, pool the resources and automate the processes. In this model, hardware becomes increasingly invisible -- seen solely through a layer of dynamic, scalable and agile software. Many of the core elements of this approach have been pioneered by companies like Google, Amazon and Facebook. But while they've accomplished a great deal, their implementations have been specifically designed for their specialized environments. Now is the time for us, as an industry, to take these valuable learning and apply the software-defined approach for the benefit of all businesses -- and all the millions of applications that power our economy.

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