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The EPA’s Journey to Software-Defined Data Centers

IT officials view SDDCs as a long-term goal that can potentially reduce costs and deliver IT resources more efficiently.

The Environmental Protection Agency is tracking adoption of software-defined data centers (SDDCs) and will analyze where the agency can benefit from the emerging technology.

Although the agency’s path to an SDDC has not been specifically defined, the EPA began like most, with server virtualization.

49%

The percentage of capital expenditure savings an organization would realize by creating a greenfield software-defined data center; existing virtualized environments would see a 32% savings

SOURCE: Taneja Group, “Technology Brief: For Lowest Cost and Greatest Agility, Choose Software-Defined Data Center Architectures Over Traditional Hardware-Dependent Designs,” August 2014

The EPA began virtualizing its servers in 2009 with VMware in the National Computer Center in Durham, N.C. By 2012, that data center was 32 percent virtualized. Today, about 85 percent of the NCC servers run as virtual machines.

As federal agencies close in on their consolidation and cloud initiatives, many will eventually modernize with SDDCs. Richard Villars, vice president of data center and cloud for IDC, says SDDCs are an evolutionary process in which servers, storage and networking are managed as a single IT resource.

“Organizations have had great success with server and storage virtualization, and network virtualization holds great promise,” Villars says. “As they approach their refresh cycles, many organizations will look for ways to make them interdependent.”

Moving Forward

Jim Frey, vice president of research for hybrid cloud and infrastructure management at Enterprise Management Associates, says most enterprise IT organizations he works with are in some stage of developing an SDDC. SDDCs put organizations in a position to take advantage of a hybrid cloud environment. “SDDCs let IT staffs more easily move applications and workloads around to accommodate mixed environments,” he says.

Once agencies complete server and storage virtualization, they can use an overlay such as VMware NSX for the network, rather than go with a full SDN architecture, Frey notes.

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Feb 23 2015

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