Work in progress
In theory, the move to software-defined everything makes sense. Software-defined networks (SDN), software-defined storage (SDS), software-defined computing (SDC), software-defined data centres (SDDC) – the IT world is full of ‘SDs’. It seems IT vendors want to move away from any dependence on hardware differentiation and look to a more dynamic and responsive platform of software functionality, but where are the opportunities for channel partner?
If you believe the hype, we’re hurtling towards a world of software-defined everything (SDE) in which successful storage, network, infrastructure and data centre strategies are finally free from the tyranny of hardware choices.
Instead there will be a new dawn: a full range of traditional and innovative cloud-based ICT services, delivered via a dynamic and responsive platform of software functionality, complete with the benefits of total virtualisation, independent of the badge on the box.
In reality, this degree of flexibility and agility is still some way off. But we are beginning to see pockets of adoption – particularly on the network, infrastructure and storage front – which signify a growing awareness of the benefits of a software-defined strategy across the Middle East. Translating those benefits into meaningful legacy-based and green-field solutions will be a lucrative business for systems integrators and channel players with the integration and orchestration skills to capitalise on this rapidly evolving trend.
“Most enterprise customers in the Middle East are well aware of the potential benefits of software-defined infrastructure (SDI),” said David Postel, partner & alliances leader, Red Hat Middle East and Africa. “There are many requests for proposal (RFPs) circulating in key countries such as the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain and Turkey, seeking solutions for cloud architectures that are either capable of SD functions out of the box or with the capability of integration later on.
“The largest vertical market today, which also happens to be the most primed to benefit from SD solutions, is the telecommunications sector. Telco companies can benefit from the cost of operating legacy network infrastructure through software-defined networking (SDN), where their entire operating environment can be abstracted and automated.”
Postel said the public, financial, healthcare, aerospace and retail sectors will also benefit from SDN, although they are currently more concerned about making sense of the large amounts of data they are accumulating.
“However, in order to realise the potential of big data analytics and the much talked about Internet of Things (IoT), these verticals have to look to software to abstract and automate entire operating environments,” he added.
Given the implications for the entire enterprise infrastructure, wholesale migration will not be an option for most organisations. This will be a long-term process, requiring all the integration skills the channel can muster – particularly as the market moves to increasingly complex SDDC projects.
“These software solutions still require the latest hardware to ensure that it can scale efficiently, integrate in an open and agnostic manner to other third-party solution, and provide the customer the best ROI for their budgets today,” said Postel.
“The fact is that many organisations have significant investments in their existing infrastructure that is stable, reliable and continues to deliver value,” said Arthur Dell, director, technology and service, MEA at Citrix.
“At the same time, applications and resources – particularly those based in the cloud – are emerging, from mobile applications to SD resources and services.”