Agility, flexibility, efficiency, cost containment—some of the same high-level goals that spurred adoption of virtualization and public cloud services are now driving interest in the software-defined data center.

But this IT model can deliver benefits that extend beyond what virtualization and the cloud offer on their own. And it opens new opportunities not only for enterprise IT groups and end users but also for service providers.

So, what is the software-defined data center? And how can your business capitalize on this model?

Moving from Abstraction to Awareness

The software-defined data center evolved from virtualized environments and private clouds. Yet a software-defined data center does more than abstract layers, it integrates them—from the physical infrastructure on up the stack, through virtualization, application, and management layers.

In a traditional data center, those layers often come from different vendors. They work together because of abstraction and open APIs, but that abstraction doesn’t necessarily enable automation or facilitate awareness without a deep level of integration.

By contrast, in a software-defined data center, layers are pre-integrated. And those layers are aware of each other—a change to one layer is registered by others. Deep integration enables administrators to employ automation and to define policies for the entire environment, all through a single console.

Some organizations have assembled software-defined data center environments using OpenStack tools. But vendors such as VMware have created truly integrated software-defined architectures and associated management tools, helping to ensure interoperability and awareness.

Opening a New Opportunity for Next-Generation Managed Services

Software-defined data centers offer an important opportunity for service providers to create next-generation managed cloud services. Why? Software-defined data centers are predictable, reliable platforms. Service providers can create management software for those platforms with functionality that stretches across physical devices and logical groups. They can develop common constructs that enable consistent, efficient management of multiple software-defined data center environments, ranging from public clouds to private ones.

Delivering Benefits for IT Professionals

A software-defined data center architecture can offer a range of important benefits for your IT group as it manages your organization’s infrastructure. Administrators gain the agility and flexibility to scale up and reallocate resources as needed, so they can better provide the resources that business groups need on demand.

This flexibility also helps you avoid overspending on infrastructure. Your IT group can draw from a pool of resources in your multi-cloud environment and reduce the need to purchase, configure, and manage numerous disparate systems.

In addition, a software-defined data center enhances IT efficiency. Administrators can take advantage of automation and policy-based processes to reduce the time, cost, and complexity of management tasks. And they can benefit from the simplicity of controlling a diverse environment from a single pane of glass.

Providing Self-Service for End Users

With a software-defined data center, your IT group can easily grant end users direct, self-service access to cloud resources. As a result, your business groups and development teams can avoid having to submit requests for acquiring software or deploying testing environments—and then waiting for their requests to make it to the top of the queue. End users get what they need, when they need it, while governance policies help ensure costs don’t escalate.

Adopting the Software-Defined Data Center Approach with CenturyLink

CenturyLink is committed to advancing the software-defined data center, and has developed several solutions that support and capitalize on this model. For example, we offer CenturyLink Private Cloud on VMware Cloud Foundation—a software-defined data center solution that delivers hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) as a service. Based on VMware Cloud Foundation, this CenturyLink private cloud is designed to help your organization avoid time-consuming provisioning and configuration by automating tasks and capitalizing on an on-demand private cloud.

We’ve also introduced Cloud Application Manager, our platform for delivering managed cloud services across multi-cloud environments. Our team uses Cloud Application Manager to provide extensive managed services for everything from public cloud environments—such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, or Google Cloud—to private, on-premises environments. Our customers can use Cloud Application Manager to collaborate on management and planning while enabling direct user access to cloud resources.

To learn more about software-defined data centers and what CenturyLink is doing to advance this important IT model, watch the interview of David Shacochis (VP of product management, CenturyLink) and Jim Aluotto (director of service provider business, Americas, VMware) from theCUBE:

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