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Focusing on the Enterprise-Defined Data Center

By Tom Bittman | May 18, 2015 | 6 Comments

Virtualizationprivate cloudIT GovernanceHybrid CloudFuture of InfrastructureCloudAgility


We need another IT term, right?

My problem is terms like “Software-Defined Data Center” focus on a very limited “how,” and not the “why.” And far too many of the infrastructure and operations (I&O) teams that I talk to use SDDC to describe how they are modernizing their own data center – and in a very architecturally-specific way. Or, they are talking about turning their entire infrastructure into a “private cloud.” Sorry, that’s missing the mark, by a long shot.

The problem is, many/most of the services that the enterprise needs don’t reside on providers that are architecturally consistent – and the requirements might be very, very different. A single provider and a single architecture makes little sense. So in the end, my I&O team is building a modern data center that can only talk to a limited set of other data centers – if any at all. And far, far too often, I&O organizations are bemoaning the fact that they can’t keep up with cloud providers, and their enterprise is working around them.

That’s because you’re being an obstacle, and not a part of the solution.

Enterprises don’t need a more modern data center. I repeat, enterprises don’t need a more modern data center. They need to to be able to leverage a variety of data centers that support a variety of services, and they need the I&O team to provide support in order to ensure efficient and effective service delivery. The I&O team cannot be defined by the hardware they own and operate.

The I&O team’s responsibilities need to be defined by the data centers and services that the enterprise needs – and not the other way around.

Most enterprises – especially larger – will never eliminate their need for their own data centers. But that’s not the point. Most enterprises – perhaps almost all – will be leveraging many cloud services. So, sorry, our data center is just delivering a part of what our enterprise needs. We can’t let our hardware define us.

So I like the term “Enterprise-Defined Data Center” (EDDC). The enterprise defines what’s needed, not I&O. To enable an EDDC, the I&O team will leverage technologies to enable a software-defined data center, they will use technologies to support aggregation, customization, integration and governance of multiple cloud providers, they will build private clouds for specific services (that will become hybrid and possibly migrate to other providers over time), they will essentially take responsibility for all enterprise services, regardless of the specific provider or data center or architectures being used. Because the enterprise doesn’t and shouldn’t care about those details.

The core competency of I&O must change from being very good providers, to being very good brokers/managers/intermediaries. There’s really no future in hardware-hugging. Very few enterprises can afford to be loyal to just their own data centers. Let the enterprise define their requirements.

Leave a Comment


  • +1. Fully agree Tom. The move is underway for enterprise-defined data centers with adoption of hybrid cloud and solution like those from our’s ( focus on the problems that you highlight.

  • Tom, your point is similar to what we’ve been saying to our Enterprise customers. Legacy systems are not necessarily obsolete and are likely to continue to exist as they are responsible for many business critical applications that can’t be moved (at least not in the short term). If the end game is to become more responsive (agile, flexible etc.) then IT needs to move to a “service broker” model. Cisco has a broad portfolio of technology and service capabilities that help enable the transition to support Bimodal IT putting the control point back into the hands of Enterprise IT without compromising security or network policy.

  • Barak says:

    Thanks, Thomas. I appreciate this perspective very much. I work at Dell and I think this POV is very relevant for us, and how we are trying to do business. For many of us techies, new products are very exciting. But understanding what our customers actually need to be successful is a totally different (and sometimes more modest) proposition!

  • Bob Kramlich says:

    The Enterprise-Defined Data Center will not only use loud connectivity as part of its strategy, but will also use Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) software to allow customers to optimize workload and create better alignment with the demands of their businesses.

  • Bernard says:

    Great article! #vmware #sddc enables both private and hybrid clouds. #vmware #vRealizeSuite is your dashboard/control pane to the #Gartner #EDDC.