“Today's hyper-competitive business environment demands that enterprises react rapidly to the continuous stream of cues and signals received from the market to make the most of emerging opportunities.”
That’s the view of Pushkaraksh Shanbhag, Senior Research Manager, IT Services, IDC, who believes that in such an environment, the quest for infrastructure solutions that can amplify enterprise agility and responsiveness is almost an existential imperative.
Recent IDC research explores the role of software-defined infrastructure (SDI) in the transformation of enterprise data centres, and how this transformation opens “exciting” value-creation opportunities for IT Services providers.
As Shanbhag explains, rapidly increasing usage of converged and hyper-converged infrastructure solutions, which represent implementations of the software-defined infrastructure philosophy and infuse enterprise IT architectures with the cloud-like attributes of elasticity and scalability, will be a norm in the new generation of datacenter build-out and transformation initiatives.
“We are at the threshold of significant disruption in the data centre space,” Shanbhag adds.
Shanbhag puts this down to the growth of relative newcomers such as Nutanix - a hyper-converged solutions vendor - who are jostling for space against the giants of the software-defined world such as VMware, and the entire breadth of IT infrastructure vendors rushing to build out appealing converged and hyper-converged solutions portfolios.
As the enterprise infrastructure landscape evolves rapidly and grows increasingly crowded, IDC estimates that incompatible or immature IT asset management practices will prevent 80 percent of enterprises from taking full advantage of software-defined infrastructure solutions through 2016.
“IT services providers will have a key role to play in helping enterprises put in place optimal solutions, processes and services best suited to support their specific business objectives,” Shanbhag adds.
“And also ensuring that critical business functions continue to function seamlessly during potentially disruptive transitions.”
Going forward, Shanbhag believes the increasing uptake of software-defined infrastructure will transform the role of IT services providers.
Enterprises will look to IT services vendors for a wide range of services relating to SDI - consulting and advisory services for SDI-enabled strategy and roadmap, design and architecture services for software-defined enterprise environments, services around SDI implementation and managed services to help enterprises with ongoing operations.
“Among other longer-term disruptive changes, rapid adoption of SDI will negatively impact the demand for discreet infrastructure support services, while demand for premium support services around the infrastructure abstraction layer in SDI environments will see rapid growth,” Shanbhag adds.
In the beginning of the SDI evolution, there was lots of focus on the infrastructure dimension, which meant the initial services opportunities were around network consulting and integration (NCIS).
“While NCIS is still important, there is growing interest around workload-related services, including workload design, workload virtualisation and workload migration, unified management (including applications management) and service orchestration,” adds Cathy Huang , IT Services CIS Program Lead, IDC Asia/Pacific.
“Additionally, it will allow the service providers to expand the scope and focus of datacenter services because of the automation potential throughout the control layer of the software defined datacenter.”
IDC also believes that Service Providers will be able to deliver significant value through partnerships with infrastructure vendors, particularly those with offerings that leverage open standards such as OpenStack and OpenDaylight so they are able to provide a wider choice of standards-based, interoperable software-defined solutions to their customers while avoiding vendor lock-in.