In my last post we discussed the ODM (Original Design Manufacturer) direct white box hardware; in this post we’ll discuss the concept of SDx (Software-Defined Everything – also abbreviated as SDE.)  Software-defined everything is a marketing term that refers to the virtualization of all aspects of the data center.  Various software-defined technologies such as SDN (Software-Defined Networking), SDS (Software-Defined Storage), and SDDC (Software-Defined Data Center) are included under the SDx moniker.  At its heart, SDx is about the decoupling of software from underlying hardware – it’s a vision that strikes at the heart of the modern networking and storage industry.  Interestingly, virtualization of computation, while revolutionary, is much less of a revolution than SDN, SDS, and SDDC because servers were already general-purpose compute engines.  Compare that with the idea of your switch, router, SAN, or NAS being general compute engines with third-party software executing upon them and you begin to understand the magnitude of the change.

The concepts underlying SDx at its heart aren’t new.  Bill Gates and Microsoft pioneered the concept of open hardware and software at Microsoft with Windows while Steve Jobs and Apple pursued a different vision in the vertically-integrated Mac.  Today Apple continues to pursue the vision of deeply integrated hardware and software with iPhone while Google (and Microsoft) pursue the software that operates upon a variety of manufacturers hardware platforms.  However, this consumer-side battle has been largely ignored by data center architects for the last few decades – SDx is about bringing this open hardware and open software approach not just to consumers but to IT staff as well.

This is part 14 of an on-going series. Part 1: virtualization isn’t the next big thing (NBT) because it was the last big thing (LBT); part 2: data center IP traffic growth; part 3: data center IP traffic sources; part 4: cloud workloads; part 5: large data centers and administrator to server ratios; part 6: strategy overview – adapt or be crushed; part 7: automation, agility, adaptability;  part 8, automation vs agility and adaptability; part 9: virtualizing everything; part 10: bare metal cloud; part 11: bare metal cloud performance; part 12: SSDs; part 13: unified systems; part 14: commodity hardware.