Thursday, October 03, 2013

Oracle Software Defined Datacenter enabling strategy

When using a cloud service less and less people are thinking about how things work "under the cloud". The cloud is taken as a given fact without thinking about how a cloud vendor is ensuring everything is working and is capable of providing the scalability and flexibility that comes with a true cloud solution. There is also no need to think about this in many cases, unless you are the one who is building the cloud solution and/or responsible for maintaining the solution. 

As already stated by Pat Gelsinger, the VMWare CEO we are entering the third wave of IT which is the Mobile-cloud wave. This third wave is making life much more simpler for a number of people, when you need an environment you can simply request one by your infrastructure-as-a-service provide and most hints will be arranged. When you for example request a new instance at Amazon web services you can simply click your network components together and magically everything is working. 

The more complicated factor that is coming in to play which was not (that much) the case in the client-server era is that more and more components need to be virtualised and should be able to be controlled from a central software based portal. This is when SDDC is coming into play, SDDC stands for Software-Defined Data Center and is an architecture approach in which the entire IT infrastructure extending on the virtualisation concept. Within this concept all infrastructure components are delivered as it where software components. In general the main 3 components of a SDDC architecture are:

Compute virtualisation, which is a software implementation of a computer.

Network and security virtualization. Network virtualization, sometimes referred to as software-defined networking, is the process of merging hardware and software resources and networking functionality into a software-based virtual network.The network and security virtualization layer untethers the software-defined data center from the underlying physical network and firewall architecture

Software-defined storage, or storage virtualization, enables data center administrators to manage multiple storage types and brands from a single software interface. High availability, which is unbundled from the actual storage hardware, allows for the addition of any storage arrays as needed.

When we take a look at the Oracle portfolio we do see a tendency towards software-defined-datacenter solutions. As Oracle is adopting the cloud thinking and is not only providing a cloud platform but also is providing the building blocks for customers to build there own (internal) clouds it is not more then logical that we find SDDC supporting solutions. 

Oracle Compute virtualisation;
it is without any doubt that Oracle is working on a number of virtualisation technologies where Oracle VM is the most noteworthy and used. Next to this Oracle is working on a Solaris containers approach however for the x86 platforms the common standard is becoming Oracle VM which is based on the XEN hypervisor

Software defined networking;
In this field Oracle is taking some great steps. Oracle SDN (software defined Network) has been launched some time ago. Oracle SDN boosts application performance and management flexibility by dynamically connecting virtual machines (VMs) and servers to any resource in your data center fabric. Oracle SDN redefines server connectivity by employing the basic concepts of virtualisation. Unlike legacy port- and switch-based networking, which defines connectivity via complex LAN configurations, Oracle SDN defines connectivity entirely in software, using a supremely  elegant resource: the private virtual interconnect. A private virtual interconnect is a software defined link between two resources. It enables you to connect any virtual machine or server to any other resource including virtual machines, virtual appliances, bare metal servers, networks, and storage devices anywhere in the data center. 

The SDN solution from oracle provides a great set of management and monitoring tools which enables administrators and architects to manage the virtual network in a more efficient way and also tie this into a flexible cloud solution which is architected front he ground up and is fully automated. 

Software defined storage;
within the field of software defined storage Oracle is, at this moment, not providing a clear path to the future. However when searching the Oracle website you can find some reports that are hinting or talking about the subject. 

There is an IDC report on the oracle website where IDC is stating the following question without answering it directly; "Will Oracle leverage ZFS or ZFS/OpenStack for a software-only, software-defined storage solution for hyperscale cloud builders? Given that Oracle does not have a material storage hardware business to protect and it has an excellent software stack with ZFS (and more enhancements coming), Oracle could really become a strategic supplier to next-generation cloud builders.

I my opinion this is a bit off the mark as Oracle has a storage hardware department where they do build and sell storage appliances however it is true that this is not the main focus of the company however can become a more and more valuable part of the company in the upcoming time. 

Next to this there is a report from Dragon Slayer Consulting which can be found on the Oracle website which is also talking for a bit about software defined storage and is also stating some hints on how ZFS appliances can be used in combination with Oracle Enterprise Manager to be used in a software defined storage solution. 

Even though there are a lot of options to "trick" components to act like software defined storage solutions and a lot can be done by using Oracle Enterprise Manager there is not a real good definition and a clear path coming from Oracle on what role they will play with regards to Software Defined Storage in the future. 

Oracle Enterprise Manager;

We do see a trend that Oracle is integrating the monitoring and management options into Oracle Enterprise Manager and making this the central location for all management tasks. Also Oracle announced that it will be integrating with openstack and will provide OpenStack Swift API's. Having the Oracle Enterprise Manager capabilities extended with OpenStack API's and making more and more components "software defined" Oracle is building a portfolio that is able to form the basis for a full Oracle Red Stack private cloud solution, not only for "small" enterprises but also for large cloud vendors who are willing to provide large scale cloud solutions to large number of (internal or external) customers. 
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