Cloud Security Authors: Ed Featherston, Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Dana Gardner, Yeshim Deniz

Related Topics: SDN Journal, Java IoT, Linux Containers, Containers Expo Blog, @CloudExpo, Cloud Security

SDN Journal: Blog Feed Post

Resolving the Questions Surrounding the SDDC

You can't have a successful software-defined model with a hardware-defined mentality

Question 1. Vendors are racing to lead the movement towards a softwaredefined data centre. Where are we up to in this journey, and how far are we from seeing this trend widely adopted?

Considering most organisations have still not fully virtualized or moved towards a true Private Cloud model, SDDC is still in its infancy in terms of mainstream adoption and certainly won't be an overnight process. While typical early adopters are advancing quickly down the software-defined route these are mostly organizations with large scale multi site data centres who are already mature in terms of their IT processes. Such large scale organisations are not the norm and while the SDDC is certainly on the mindset of senior IT executives, establishing such a model requires several key challenges and tasks.

Typical environments are still characterised by numerous silos, complex & static configurations and partially virtualized initiatives. Isolated component and operational silos need to be replaced with expertise that cover the whole infrastructure so that organisations can focus on defining their business policies. In this instance the converged infrastructure model is ideal as it enables the infrastructure to be managed, maintained and optimised as a single entity by a single silo. Subsequently such environments also need to dramatically rearrange their IT processes to accommodate features such as orchestration, automation, metering and billing as they all have a knock on effect to service delivery, activation and assurance as well as change management and release management procedures. The SDDC necessitates a cultural shift and change to IT as much as a technical one and the latter historically always takes longer. It could still be several years before we really see the SDDC be adopted widely but it's definitely being discussed and planned for the future.

You can't have a successful software-defined model with a hardware-defined mentality

Question 2. Looking at all the components of a data centre, which one poses the most challenges to being virtualized and software-defined?
The majority of data centre components have experienced considerable technological advancements in past few years. Yet in comparison to networking, compute and hypervisor, storage arrays still haven't seen that many drastic changes beyond new features of auto-tiering, thin-provisioning, deduplication and the introduction of EFDs. Moreover Software Defined's focus is applications and dynamically meeting the changing requirements of an application and service offering. Beyond quality of service monitoring based on IOPS and backend/frontend processor utilisation, there are still considerable limitations with storage arrays in terms of application awareness.

Additionally with automation being integral to a software-defined strategy that can dynamically shift resources based on application requirements, automation technologies within storage arrays are up to now still very limited. While storage features such as dynamic tiering may be automated, they are still not based on real-time metrics and consequently not responsive to real-time requirements.

This leads to the fact that storage itself has moved beyond the array and is now encompassed in numerous forms such as HDD, Flash, PCM and NVRAM etc. each with their own characteristics, benefits and challenges. As of yet the challenge is still to have a software layer that can abstract all of these various formats as a single resource pool. The objective should be that regardless of where these formats reside whether that's within the server, the array cache or the backend of the array etc. they can still dynamically be shifted across platforms to meet application needs as well as provide resiliency and high availability.

Question 3. Why has there been confusion about how software-defined should be interpreted, and how has this effected the market?
Similar to when the Cloud concept first emerged in the industry, the understanding of the software-defined model quickly became somewhat blurred as marketing departments of traditional infrastructure vendors jumped on the bandwagon. While they were quick to coin the Software-Defined terminology to their offerings, there was little if anything different to their products or product strategy. This led to various misconceptions such as software- defined was just another term for Cloud, if it was virtualised it was software-defined or even more ludicrously that software-defined meant the non-existence or removal of hardware.

To elaborate, all hardware components need software of some kind to function but this does not necessitate them to be software-defined. For example Storage arrays use various software technologies such as replication, snapshotting, auto-tiering and dynamic provisioning. Some storage vendors even have the capability of virtualising third party vendor arrays behind their own or via appliances and consequently abstracting the storage completely from the hardware whereby an end user is merely looking at a resource pool. But this in itself does not define the array as software defined and herein lies the confusion that some end users face as they struggle to understand the latest trend being directed at them by their C-level execs.

Question 4. The idea of a software-defined data centre (virtualizing and automating the entire infrastructure wildly disrupts the make-up of a traditional IT team. How can CIOs handle the inevitable resistance some of their IT employees will make?
First and foremost you can't have a successful Software- defined model if your team still have a hardware-defined mentality. Change is inevitable and whether it's embraced or not it will happen. For experienced CIOs this is not the first time they've experienced this technological and consequently cultural change in IT. There was resistance to change from the mainframe team when open systems took off, there was no such thing as a virtualisation team when VMware was first introduced and only now are we seeing Converged infrastructure teams being established despite the CI market being around for more than three years. For the traditional IT teams to accept this change they need to recognise how it will inevitably benefit them.

Market research is unanimous in its conclusion that currently IT administrators are far too busy doing maintenance tasks that involve firefighting "keeping the lights" on exercises. Generally figures point to a 77% mark of overall time spent for IT admin on doing mundane maintenance and routine tasks with very little time spent on innovation, optimisation and focus of delivering value to the business. For these teams the software-defined model offers the opportunity to move away from such tasks and free up their time enabling them to be proactive as opposed to reactive. With the benefits of orchestration and automation, IT admin can focus on the things they are trained and specialised in such as delivering performance optimisation, understanding application requirements and aligning their services and work to business value.

Question 5. To what extent does a software-defined model negate the need to deploy the public cloud? What effect will this have on the market?
The software defined model shouldn't and most likely won't negate the public cloud, if anything it will make its use case even clearer. The SDDC is a natural evolution of cloud, and particularly the private cloud. The private cloud is all about IT service consumption and delivery of IT services whether this be layered upon converged infrastructure or self assembled infrastructures. Those that have already deployed a private cloud and are also utilising the public cloud have done so with the understanding and assessment of their data; it's security and most typically it's criticality. The software defined-model introduces a greater level of intelligence via software where application awareness and requirements linked to business service levels are met automatically and dynamically. Here the demand is being dictated by the workload and the software is the enabler to provision the adequate resources for that requirement.

Consequently organisations will have a greater level of flexibility and agility to previous private cloud and even public cloud deployments, thus providing more lucidity in the differentiation between the private and public cloud. Instead of needing to request from a cloud provider permission, the software defined model will provide organisations on-demand access to their data as well as independently dictate the level of security. While this may not completely negate the requirement for a public cloud, it will certainly diminish the immediate benefits and advantages associated with it.

Question 6. For CIOs looking for pure bottom-line incentives they can take to senior management, what is the true value of a software-defined infrastructure?
The true value of a software defined model is that it empowers IT to be a true business enabler. Most business executives still see IT as an expensive overhead as opposed to a business enabler. This is typically because of IT's inability to respond quicker to ever changing service requirements, market trends and new project roll-outs that the business demands. Much of this is caused by the deeply entrenched organizational silos that exist within IT where typical infrastructure deployments can take up to months. While converged infrastructure solutions have gone some way to solving this challenge, the software defined model builds on this by providing further speed and agility to the extent that organisations can encapsulate their business requirements into business delivery processes. In this instance infrastructure management processes become inherently linked to business rules that incorporate compliances, performance metrics and business policies. In turn via automation and orchestration these business rules dynamically drive and provision the infrastructure resources of storage, networking and compute in real time to the necessary workloads as the business demands it.

Question 7. To what extent will a software-defined infrastructure change the way end-users should approach security in the data centre?
A software-defined model will change the way data centre security is approached in several ways. Traditional physical data center security architecture is renowned for being inflexible and complex due to its reliance on segmented numbers of dedicated appliances to provide numerous requirements such as load balancing, gateways, firewalls, wire sniffers etc. Within a software-defined model, security can potentially not only be delivered as a flexible and agile service but also as a feature that's built into the architecture. Whether that is based on an approach of security being embedded within the servers, storage or network, a software-defined approach has to take advantage of being able to dynamically distribute security policies and resources that are logically managed and scaled via a single pane.

From a security perspective a SDDC provides immediate benefits. Imagine how simplified it will become when automation can be utilized to restructure infrastructure components that have become vulnerable to security threats? Even the automation of isolating malware infected network end points will drastically simplify typical security procedures but will then consequently need to be planned for differently.

Part of that planning is acknowledging not just the benefits but the new types of risk they inevitably introduce. For example, abstracting the security control plane from the security processing and forwarding planes means that any potential configuration errors or security issues can have far more complex consequences than in the traditional data centre. Furthermore centralising the architecture ultimately means a greater security threat should that central control be compromised. These are some of the security challenges that organisations will face and there are already movements in the software defined security space to cater for this.

Question 8. Where do you see the software-defined market going over the next couple of years?
The concept of the SDDC is going to gain even more visibility and acceptance within the industry and the technological advances that have already come about with Software-Defined Networking will certainly galvanise this. Vendors that have adopted the software-defined tagline will have to mature their product offerings and roadmaps to fit such a model as growing industry awareness will empower organizations to distinguish between genuine features and marketing hyperbole.

For organisations that have already heavily virtualized and built private clouds the SDDC is the next natural progression. For those that have adopted the converged infrastructure model this transition will be even easier as they will have already put the necessary IT processes and models in place to simplify their infrastructure as a fully automated, centrally managed and optimized baseline from which the SDDC will emanate from. It is fair to say that it won't be a surprise to see a lot of the organisations that embraced the converged infrastructure model to also be the pioneers of a successful SDDC.

The above interview with Archie Hendryx is taken from the May 2014 issue of Information Age.

More Stories By Archie Hendryx

SAN, NAS, Back Up / Recovery & Virtualisation Specialist.

@ThingsExpo Stories
We're entering the post-smartphone era, where wearable gadgets from watches and fitness bands to glasses and health aids will power the next technological revolution. With mass adoption of wearable devices comes a new data ecosystem that must be protected. Wearables open new pathways that facilitate the tracking, sharing and storing of consumers’ personal health, location and daily activity data. Consumers have some idea of the data these devices capture, but most don’t realize how revealing and...
A completely new computing platform is on the horizon. They’re called Microservers by some, ARM Servers by others, and sometimes even ARM-based Servers. No matter what you call them, Microservers will have a huge impact on the data center and on server computing in general. Although few people are familiar with Microservers today, their impact will be felt very soon. This is a new category of computing platform that is available today and is predicted to have triple-digit growth rates for some ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that MathFreeOn will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. MathFreeOn is Software as a Service (SaaS) used in Engineering and Math education. Write scripts and solve math problems online. MathFreeOn provides online courses for beginners or amateurs who have difficulties in writing scripts. In accordance with various mathematical topics, there are more tha...
In past @ThingsExpo presentations, Joseph di Paolantonio has explored how various Internet of Things (IoT) and data management and analytics (DMA) solution spaces will come together as sensor analytics ecosystems. This year, in his session at @ThingsExpo, Joseph di Paolantonio from DataArchon, will be adding the numerous Transportation areas, from autonomous vehicles to “Uber for containers.” While IoT data in any one area of Transportation will have a huge impact in that area, combining sensor...
SYS-CON Events announced today that SoftNet Solutions will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. SoftNet Solutions specializes in Enterprise Solutions for Hadoop and Big Data. It offers customers the most open, robust, and value-conscious portfolio of solutions, services, and tools for the shortest route to success with Big Data. The unique differentiator is the ability to architect and ...
The best way to leverage your Cloud Expo presence as a sponsor and exhibitor is to plan your news announcements around our events. The press covering Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo will have access to these releases and will amplify your news announcements. More than two dozen Cloud companies either set deals at our shows or have announced their mergers and acquisitions at Cloud Expo. Product announcements during our show provide your company with the most reach through our targeted audiences.
More and more brands have jumped on the IoT bandwagon. We have an excess of wearables – activity trackers, smartwatches, smart glasses and sneakers, and more that track seemingly endless datapoints. However, most consumers have no idea what “IoT” means. Creating more wearables that track data shouldn't be the aim of brands; delivering meaningful, tangible relevance to their users should be. We're in a period in which the IoT pendulum is still swinging. Initially, it swung toward "smart for smar...
@ThingsExpo has been named the Top 5 Most Influential Internet of Things Brand by Onalytica in the ‘The Internet of Things Landscape 2015: Top 100 Individuals and Brands.' Onalytica analyzed Twitter conversations around the #IoT debate to uncover the most influential brands and individuals driving the conversation. Onalytica captured data from 56,224 users. The PageRank based methodology they use to extract influencers on a particular topic (tweets mentioning #InternetofThings or #IoT in this ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Niagara Networks will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Niagara Networks offers the highest port-density systems, and the most complete Next-Generation Network Visibility systems including Network Packet Brokers, Bypass Switches, and Network TAPs.
In an era of historic innovation fueled by unprecedented access to data and technology, the low cost and risk of entering new markets has leveled the playing field for business. Today, any ambitious innovator can easily introduce a new application or product that can reinvent business models and transform the client experience. In their Day 2 Keynote at 19th Cloud Expo, Mercer Rowe, IBM Vice President of Strategic Alliances, and Raejeanne Skillern, Intel Vice President of Data Center Group and ...
Data is the fuel that drives the machine learning algorithmic engines and ultimately provides the business value. In his session at Cloud Expo, Ed Featherston, a director and senior enterprise architect at Collaborative Consulting, will discuss the key considerations around quality, volume, timeliness, and pedigree that must be dealt with in order to properly fuel that engine.
Virgil consists of an open-source encryption library, which implements Cryptographic Message Syntax (CMS) and Elliptic Curve Integrated Encryption Scheme (ECIES) (including RSA schema), a Key Management API, and a cloud-based Key Management Service (Virgil Keys). The Virgil Keys Service consists of a public key service and a private key escrow service. 

Fact is, enterprises have significant legacy voice infrastructure that’s costly to replace with pure IP solutions. How can we bring this analog infrastructure into our shiny new cloud applications? There are proven methods to bind both legacy voice applications and traditional PSTN audio into cloud-based applications and services at a carrier scale. Some of the most successful implementations leverage WebRTC, WebSockets, SIP and other open source technologies. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Da...
Fifty billion connected devices and still no winning protocols standards. HTTP, WebSockets, MQTT, and CoAP seem to be leading in the IoT protocol race at the moment but many more protocols are getting introduced on a regular basis. Each protocol has its pros and cons depending on the nature of the communications. Does there really need to be only one protocol to rule them all? Of course not. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Matthieu, co-founder and CTO of Octoblu, walk you through how Oct...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Embotics, the cloud automation company, will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Embotics is the cloud automation company for IT organizations and service providers that need to improve provisioning or enable self-service capabilities. With a relentless focus on delivering a premier user experience and unmatched customer support, Embotics is the fas...
The Internet of Things (IoT), in all its myriad manifestations, has great potential. Much of that potential comes from the evolving data management and analytic (DMA) technologies and processes that allow us to gain insight from all of the IoT data that can be generated and gathered. This potential may never be met as those data sets are tied to specific industry verticals and single markets, with no clear way to use IoT data and sensor analytics to fulfill the hype being given the IoT today.
@ThingsExpo has been named the Top 5 Most Influential M2M Brand by Onalytica in the ‘Machine to Machine: Top 100 Influencers and Brands.' Onalytica analyzed the online debate on M2M by looking at over 85,000 tweets to provide the most influential individuals and brands that drive the discussion. According to Onalytica the "analysis showed a very engaged community with a lot of interactive tweets. The M2M discussion seems to be more fragmented and driven by some of the major brands present in the...
WebRTC has had a real tough three or four years, and so have those working with it. Only a few short years ago, the development world were excited about WebRTC and proclaiming how awesome it was. You might have played with the technology a couple of years ago, only to find the extra infrastructure requirements were painful to implement and poorly documented. This probably left a bitter taste in your mouth, especially when things went wrong.
The Quantified Economy represents the total global addressable market (TAM) for IoT that, according to a recent IDC report, will grow to an unprecedented $1.3 trillion by 2019. With this the third wave of the Internet-global proliferation of connected devices, appliances and sensors is poised to take off in 2016. In his session at @ThingsExpo, David McLauchlan, CEO and co-founder of Buddy Platform, discussed how the ability to access and analyze the massive volume of streaming data from millio...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Pulzze Systems will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Pulzze Systems, Inc. provides infrastructure products for the Internet of Things to enable any connected device and system to carry out matched operations without programming. For more information, visit http://www.pulzzesystems.com.