If you believe reports, you would expect data centers to have become software defined long ago. Almost as soon as virtualization became a thing, vendors predicted that infrastructure would be turned into resource pools of computer, storage and networing that could be optimized, consolidated and consumed on demand.

dcim footprint pie
– DCDi

Of the three services, software-defined compute has moved the furthest, with virtualization now expected, and a move to containers driving some of the overheads out.

Software-defined storage is well supported within vendors’ offerings, but these are likely to be proprietary.

Software-defined networking (SDN), driven by the Open Compute Project and OpenDaylight, aims to provide commodity bare-metal switches that run open-source software providing virtual network functions.

Big intentions

In 2015, data center managers have big intentions, according to research from DCD Intelligence. The analyst group’s most recent census finds that around 15.3 percent of the global industry plans to deploy “software-defined utilities” this year, while 17.7 percent of the industry has already started to do so.

The breakdown by countries and industry shows there is some fragmentation. Many European countries are ahead of the US in the adoption of software-defined networking. The Netherlands leads the way with 35 percent already deploying; France has 24 percent, and Germany is on 19 percent.

Broken down by sector, we find that colocation and business services have been the fastest adopters, with more than 25 percent deploying already. Other sectors such as finance and media are also showing enthusiasm for the idea. Perhaps not surprisingly, the ever-cautious public sector is the laggard, with less than 10 percent using software-defined utilities.

Finally, DCDi looked at the make up of the IT estate within the early adopters. As you would expect, companies using software defined are more virtualized and more outsourced than the rest.

dcim vertical profile
– DCDi

Within the leaders’ group, around 44 percent is in-house and rack-based, compared with 54 percent for the whole census. Around 20 percent is virtualized in-house IT, compared with less than 16 percent for the whole sample.

Software defined people user more cloud

Stepping outside the in-house data center, both groups have about 20 percent of their IT in outsourced racks, but, not surprisingly, the software-defined fans use more cloud – at 17 percent of their IT compared with 11 percent from the total group.

It’s a familiar story to some extent. The big marketing stories always turn into a slow and incremental tale of implementation. Like other changes in the data center, the move to software defined is moving perceptibly, and delivering benefits along the way.

dcim adoption rates
– DCDi