22nd Feb 2016: IT Hardware Doesn't Matter Any More
The major hardware vendors already know something – when it comes to IT managers running IT departments the hardware they choose to use is becoming increasingly less important. Cloud computing has been a catalyst for this. When a workload is moved to cloud the IT manager no longer has to spend a second thinking about the hardware that is being used to support that workload.
It becomes about service levels not the hardware delivering compute and storage. The decline of hardware as a strategic part of the IT decision making process is not just about cloud, it has extended into the on premise datacenter. SOFTWARE DEFINED – these two words explain why the specific brand or manufacturer of hardware being used for compute, storage or networking is becoming increasingly less important to IT Directors.
Software defined is about using to software to create a layer of abstraction between hardware and the person managing that hardware. Early steps in software definition including things like virtual volume manager on disks and then the concept of virtual machines on servers. We have moved to a point where every part of the IT stack can be software defined. A layer of software that manages any storage, any server and any networking hardware. IT managers become less worried about compatibility between hardware vendors. IT manages service level rather than hardware. The focus of IT revolves around workloads and applications the software layer ensures appropriate hardware resource is allocated based on service level. In truth the type of underlying hardware does make a difference, as an example flash disk will still perform faster than spinning disk, but for the IT managed through software, the type of disk doesn’t matter. The administrator simply asks for storage that meets a given criteria then the software intelligently allocates it.
Software Defined Datacenter removes dependence on a single hardware vendor, it allows interoperability between hardware from multiple vendors, it also de-risks decisions to try new technologies from new and start up vendors. The net effect is that the large enterprise hardware vendors are having to reinvent themselves, they have to embrace software defined approach but in doing so they open up “their” accounts to working with other vendors.
The approach is changing. At Zerto we talk about protecting workloads and workload mobility. It’s a message that is increasingly resonating with IT directors. The Zerto approach is not only hardware agnostic it is even hypervisor agnostic. This resonates because the application and workload is becoming the primary concern of the IT department. Software that abstracts the underlying infrastructure allows IT directors to focus on application service level and at the same time de-focus on keeping IT running – The net effect is that hardware decisions will continue to become less strategic.