I recently attended data center conferences hosted by research firms 451 and Gartner, both of whom announced that our industry is in the midst of the biggest change we’ve seen in a generation.

One of these next generation changes involves the term “SDx” that seems to be causing just as much confusion as “cloud computing” did a few years back when few understood its definition.

SDx refers to software-defined anything. It is a collective term that encapsulates the growing adoption of improved programmability across the data center where centralized software controls numerous types of equipment, data transmission and activities.

SD What?

In an industry that seems to overcook acronyms, SDx is yet another that is getting to the point of being too tough to swallow. So let’s put on our TLA (three letter acronym) hat and dive right in.

  • Software-defined compute (SDC) refers to any variety or brand of equipment (i.e., computers and servers) operating in the cloud with virtualized software and applications.
  • Software-defined storage (SDS) can be a storage disk within a server, directly attached to the server or SAN-attached arrays.
  • Software-defined network (SDN) is the network that transmits everything between the systems. This can be a traditional, separate network (LAN or SAN) or a converged network. These networks are usually fabric- or mesh-based designs with high-bandwidth backbones and uplinks designed for low latency.
  • Software-defined Infrastructure (SDI) is the foundation that supports SDC, SDS and SDN. It is essentially the management structure behind all of the “SD anythings” that reside in software defined data centers (SDDCs) or software-defined facilities (SDFs).

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Gartner states that SDx has defined the world of IT and is gaining momentum at an exponential rate. It is putting technology and convenience at our finger tips to respond to the demand for information anytime, anywhere and on any device instantaneously.

SDx will drive the integration of infrastructure where boundaries between traditional infrastructure and the data center will blur and common software-defined tools between IT and operations will be created, eliminating specialists and enabling teamwork.

SDx will deliver a nexus of infrastructure for big data, cloud delivery, mobile apps and social media, allowing workloads to be defined by personality such as function, state, size, availability, complexity and security.

With processes and entire organizations supported by SDx, the viability of less critical applications can be assessed by quickly rolling them out after fast functionality testing rather than the old-style process of long quality assurance cycles with comprehensive and repeated worst-case scenario testing. This is known as a “fail fast” approach to application development. SDx promises to make everything programmable and is currently a driving force for future infrastructure refreshes.

Not All or Nothing

While SDx will have significant impact, many businesses will need to take a bi-modal IT approach (yet another buzzword). Bi-modal IT is the coexistence of traditional and modern IT practices within the same entity where some applications remain in a traditional environment due to security or reliability issues while other less critical “fail fast” applications will operate within the new SDx model for agility and speed to deploy. In other words, SDx will not completely be the end of IT as we know it – it will be a hybrid.

Regardless, SDx is providing new methods and concepts that will ultimately result in lower IT cost and deliver the potential to generate incredible revenue from markets all across the world. Even though it’s not necessarily all or nothing, businesses will need to get on board with SDx or die a slow, expensive death.

Stay tuned for more on SDx and Bi-modal IT in upcoming blogs.