Software-Defined Infrastructure (SDI): Making Hybrid Cloud More Compelling Than Ever Before

By separating resource provisioning and management from the underlying infrastructure components, software-defined infrastructure (SDI) is helping organisations accelerate their hybrid cloud adoption.

Agility and control are diametric opposites, but that’s what organisations obtain by adopting the hybrid cloud model. While private cloud ensures control and security, the public cloud provides agility and flexibility—hybrid cloud delivers all four and more.

No wonder, then, that the hybrid model has been gaining popularity over the pure-play cloud flavors during the past few years. According to data published by, the worldwide hybrid cloud market is expected to touch $91.74 billion by 2021, exhibiting a strong 22% growth.

At another level, the foundational technology, SDI is advancing accelerated adoption of hybrid cloud, thanks to some unique capabilities that SDI brings to hybrid cloud deployments.

Picture this. A UK-based global insurance company rolled out a composite automation roadmap, changing legacy architectures with a modern SDI. The insurer, running two data centres, unified its compute, storage and network pieces while integrating them with the public cloud. In the process, they achieved greater control, flexibility, convenience and optimal resource utilisation. The company also managed to slash costs involved in IT operations, maintenance and data retrieval following SDI implementation.

Down to brass tacks

SDI is an architectural approach whereby the entire data centre infrastructure is controlled by software with zero or minimal human involvement. A significant departure from the conventional hardware-centric model, SDI brings foundational data centre infrastructure elements under its umbrella as software-defined networking (SDN), software-defined storage (SDS), software defined compute (SDC), and network function virtualisation (NFV), while seamlessly inter-connecting the organisation’s private and public cloud deployments.

In SDI, human administrators define the organization's application and operational policies while orchestration software automates the infrastructure provisioning and configurations to comply with those policies. An SDI-based architecture successfully addresses the challenges associated with the traditional hardware-centric model as it gains self-awareness, self-optimizing, self-scaling, and self-healing capabilities.

In SDI, human administrators define the organisation's application and operational policies while orchestration software automates infrastructure provisioning and configurations to comply with those policies. An SDI-based architecture successfully addresses challenges associated with the traditional hardware-centric model as it gains self-awareness, self-optimising, self-scaling, and self-healing capabilities. An SDI deployment can gain a tremendous boost in flexibility and performance when a suitable underlying technology is used. For instance, the Intel® Xeon® Scalable processor family is optimised for software orchestration, virtualisation and cloud. The Resource Director Technology (RDT) offers greater visibility and control over how shared resources such as last-level cache (LLC) and memory bandwidth are used by applications, virtual machines (VMs) and containers. Intel® QuickAssist Technology accelerates critical workloads across server, storage and network and used in conjunction, Intel® AVX-512 delivers 2X more FLOPs/core across a range of applications, including crypto/compression, visualisation, in-memory databases, deep learning as well as modelling and simulation in high performance computing. This way, based on your specific business requirements, you can ensure that your most critical applications get adequate resources to meet your performance objectives.

Let’s examine a few advantages of SDI in the context of the hybrid cloud.

Accelerating ROI

Traditional, hardware-centric infrastructures are ridden with challenges such as resource isolation, vendor lock-ins, absence of bird’s eye view of infrastructure, hassles in managing multiple cloud service providers, difficulties in moving workloads across different environments, and so on. A purely hardware-oriented model may also result in wasteful spending due to duplication in ordering. As each department procures computing and networking gear in isolation, extra capacity is created and may remain unused or underutilised at best.

These issues, besides higher operational inefficiencies, also result in failure when it comes to realising true ROI on infrastructure. According to a survey conducted by 451 Research*, while more than 60% of enterprises consider cloud as a top priority, for a vast majority, the transformational benefits of the cloud remain unrealised. SDI addresses each of these issues comprehensively, accelerating infrastructure ROI for the organisation.

Breaking infrastructure silos

In a conventional, hardware-defined model, even as virtualisation improves provisioning-speeds and efficiency levels, these benefits remain confined to the component level, such as the compute or storage stack. At the higher level of the data centre, resource provisioning and management - being largely manual - continue to remain laborious and slow. SDI, with a holistic view of infrastructure across compute, storage, and networking, brings flexibility and scalability even to private cloud through a hybrid model, with public cloud resources providing the organisation with greater levels of agility.

A range of technologies from Intel can help improve hybrid cloud resource utilisation, agility and management efficiency. For starters, organisations may opt for foundational infrastructure components including Intel® Xeon® Scalable processors, Intel® OptaneTM solid state storage, and Intel® NIC and Network Adapters to achieve high performance in their hybrid cloud deployments. Additionally, companies may employ solutions such as Cache Monitoring Technology (CMT), Cache Allocation Technology (CAT), Memory Bandwidth Monitoring (MBM) and Code and Data Prioritisation (CDP) for improved monitoring of memory resources and greater predictability in application performance. Lastly, companies can use Intel’s software tools and libraries such as Intel® Math Kernel Library for Deep Neural Networks (Intel® MKL-DNN) and Intel® Data Analytics Acceleration Library (Intel® DAAL) to leverage to the fullest their big data and AI capabilities in their hybrid cloud set-ups.

Say goodbye to irrational provisioning

The capacity planning exercise in a traditional, hardware-centric model often leads to over-provisioning of resources due to the costly ‘be-on-the-safer-side’ approach of data centre professionals. In a hybrid cloud set-up, besides leading to wasteful idle capacity creation, this approach also limits the organisation’s ability to utilise public cloud resources optimally.

This tends to take place as the traditional, hardware-centric model encourages CTOs and IT administrators to think from the perspective of hardware capacity. However, SDI, by introducing business-oriented parameters such as customer response time, transaction volumes, transaction rates and so on, brings in a 180-degree paradigm shift. With SDI, organisations can seamlessly move from private cloud to public cloud resources based purely on specific business needs and availability of resources.

Inbuilt artificial intelligence

In SDI, the orchestration software constantly monitors resources for their current states and conditions. Intelligently analyzing the demands of specific services, it defines in real-time the resources that can best meet those demands and configures and provisions them automatically. What’s more, over a period of time, using machine learning algorithms, the orchestration software can learn from past decisions to arrive at more accurate decisions in the future, thus turning your data centre into an advanced, intelligent data centre.

Given these advantages, SDI is helping organisations speed up their hybrid cloud adoption journeys while delivering the advantages of greater flexibility, agility and cost efficiency simultaneously. It truly is the way to go and the Intel® Xeon® Scalable processor family helps you get there faster.


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