RESEARCH PAPER: Software Defined Infrastructure (SDI) is Intel’s Future for the Datacenter

By Patrick Moorhead - January 29, 2014
Moor Insights & Strategy believes that IT is on the cusp of a major datacenter architecture transition. This transition will be driven by 24x7 global business reach, dramatically increased use and depth of business intelligence (BI) and predictive analytics (Big Data), and pushing sensors and intelligence into our physical world in the form of the “Internet of Things” (from datacenters to wearable consumer electronics). It is impossible to predict exact technology directions even in a three to five year timeframe, but the industry is starting to form a good, high-level framework for the future of IT operations. Software defined datacenters (SDDC) are the next generation operational target for IT. SDDC is the flexible, agile infrastructure framework that will promote IT to a full business partner capable of creating value as well as increasing operational efficiencies. Though the term SDDC was coined by VMware, we believe the key concepts of SDDC are broader. Specialized hardware will have a role in future datacenter architecture, but infrastructure software will mediate workload access flexibly to scalable hardware. Intel’s concept of software defined infrastructure (SDI) extends our definition of SDDC. It is a reevaluation of system architecture driven by the requirements of business flow, workloads, and specific applications—not by a menu of hardware available to purchase at the moment. SDI will transform mainstream enterprise datacenters. SDI has the potential to displace classic mainframes and highly available transaction processing systems by the end of this decade.

Table of Contents

  • Executive Summary
  • State of Today’s Converged Enterprise Datacenter
  • What Do We Mean by “Software Defined”?
  • Where SDI Fits
  • Flipping the Bit: Applications Come First
  • Orchestration and Service Assurance
  • Composition vs. Interoperation
  • Disaggregated Hardware and Scale
  • How Rack Scale Architecture (RSA) Applies to SDI
  • Call to Action
  • Figure 1: Intel’s 3-Layer Software Defined Infrastructure Model
  • Figure 2: SDI High-Level Summary
  • Figure 3: Directional Approaches to Server Hardware Resources
You can download the paper here.

Companies Referenced:

  • Amazon
  • AMD
  • Apple
  • Blackberry
  • Cisco
  • Dell
  • EMC
  • Facebook
  • Google
  • Hitachi
  • HP
  • IBM
  • Intel
  • Microsoft
  • NASA
  • NetApp
  • Rackspace
  • Red Hat
  • VCE
  • VMware
Patrick Moorhead
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Patrick founded the firm based on his real-world world technology experiences with the understanding of what he wasn’t getting from analysts and consultants. Ten years later, Patrick is ranked #1 among technology industry analysts in terms of “power” (ARInsights)  in “press citations” (Apollo Research). Moorhead is a contributor at Forbes and frequently appears on CNBC. He is a broad-based analyst covering a wide variety of topics including the cloud, enterprise SaaS, collaboration, client computing, and semiconductors. He has 30 years of experience including 15 years of executive experience at high tech companies (NCR, AT&T, Compaq, now HP, and AMD) leading strategy, product management, product marketing, and corporate marketing, including three industry board appointments.