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SDDC: Balancing operational efficiency with stability and predictability

Interest in agile-focused methodologies and architectures like SDDC (Software-Defined Data Center) and DevOps is heavily weighted toward achieving two primary goals: speed and stability. In the case of the former it’s about improving the time to market by reducing the amount of time it takes to push an app through the deployment pipeline that inarguably governs the production environment in just about every size organization.

Stability is a must, if for no other reason than the production environment supports the entire business. It is the primary network, the critical applications, the nervous system through which all  business signals – good and bad –flow. Disruption is not acceptable. The blast radius from a downtime triggering misconfiguration or other error is significant. Stability must be balanced against the need to improve the velocity with which applications travel from developed to deployed.

This is a non-trivial task primarily because of the complexity of the environment. This is not simply a new server, a couple of pieces of software and a network. This is a highly integrated set of connections comprising not only the app infrastructure but the app service infrastructure, too. That app service infrastructure is also not as simplistic as our network diagrams might suggest. It is not simply a firewall, a load balancer, and then the app. It is, in fact, a more robust set of services across security, scale, performance, and access. Each one of which may need to be newly provisioned, absolutely needs to be configured, and certainly requires the appropriate network support to ensure proper traversal from the ultimate consumer to the actual application. Organizations on average employ 11 different app services to deliver and secure an application. And given that said organizations support on average 500 different applications, you can see exactly why the production environment is actually a highly complex internet of services itself.

deployment pipeline soad data 2015

This is the reality of an app deployment, and why the network is often perceived as still being “in the way” of realizing improved time to market and greater efficiency of deployments.

SDDC: Achieving Speed without Sacrificing Stability

Balancing speed and stability is exactly what efforts like SDDC (Software-Defined Data Center) is designed to do. By bringing automation and orchestration through a central data center command and control system, organizations can better manage not only the wealth of app services required to deliver and secure an application but also monitor, measure and improve the processes by which they are deployed. 

The problem is no single vendor on their own spans the broad set of services required of a truly enterprise-class deployment pipeline. The provider of network services is not the provider of all app services, etc…

That means that if you’re going to actually optimize and reduce variability in the deployment pipeline by automating and orchestrating provisioning and management, you’re going to have to take an ecosystem approach. An ecosystem of integrated partners who work together not just on paper but in production to ensure a consistent, seamless, and repeatable set of production deployment processes.

Partners like VMware and F5 who, for many long years now, have proven their commitment to developing and implementing joint solutions that enable organizations to succeed on initiatives – like the SDDC.

Achieving operational agility for services considered key to delivering the performance, availability, and security services applications (and business) requires can be a challenge. Doing so consistently without consuming the bulk of available IT resources makes it even more difficult. By deploying VMware and F5 together  - using VMware NSX and/or VMware vRealize Orchestrator -  organizations can rapidly and programmatically provision the app services they need to keep apps available and secure.  We (VMware and F5) have combined forces in the Software-Defined Data Center (SDDC) to improve orchestration of application networking services for a wide variety of applications. 

Even in the cloud.

That’s important because this is not just a cloud world now, it’s a hybrid cloud world. At least that’s what we’re told by 81% of respondents in our latest State of Application Delivery survey. That means it’s not enough to integrate with orchestration and management solutions like VMware NSX or vRealize Orchestrator, it’s also imperative that the services responsible for delivering and securing apps in the cloud can be deployed in the cloud. That’s why we also offer the ability to deploy F5 software in vCloud Air to address availability, performance, and security of apps no matter where they’re deployed. The consistency of a single service delivery platform with F5 and integrated provisioning and management through VMware in both the data center and vCloud Air results in greater agility, lower costs, hardened security, higher performance, and better reliability. 

It gets “the network” out of the way of faster time to market and gains in operational efficiency without sacrificing the stability and predictability business needs.

Knowing that all sounds good, but the proof is in the pudding, as they say, F5 will demo this new SDDC orchestrated and automated solution to scale VMware Horizon to meet business demand at VMworld 2015 in San Francisco. Attendees will have two options to experience this demo—during breakout session NET6320-SPO on September 2 at 8:00 a.m., and in booth #1513 throughout the event.