SDDC or data center time machine?

By : |November 19, 2015 0

Sonal Desai

MUMBAI, INDIA: The Indian data center infrastructure market will total $2 billion in 2016, a 5.2 percent increase from 2015.

As per industry estimates, the global software-defined data center market is expected to grow from $21.78 billion in 2015 to $77.18 billion in 2020, at an estimated CAGR of 28.8 percent. In India too, SDDC is rapidly gaining ground.

Rohit Toshniwal, Co-founder and CTO, Arkin, a global player in the software-defined data centers, elaborates on how the company is helping customers transition to SDDC, in an exclusive interview with CIOL.

What exactly does the Arkin platform comprise?
The Arkin platform was built from the ground up to address software-defined data center (SDDC) security and operations.

It boasts a semantics graph search engine and plain English language, Google Search-like interface that helps visualize, secure and operate software-defined data centers. The platform also offers contextual analytics, cross-domain visibility and machine learning at cloud scale. A data center time machine helps to simplify troubleshooting and search at any point in history. The platform leverages Web scale technologies that allow it to scale to 100s of thousands of workloads. Additionally, consumer class collaboration capabilities help users share and act on common information quickly and with ease.

The platform takes an agent-less approach and can be deployed on-premise or consumed as SaaS within the Arkin cloud.

That is saying a lot. But if we cover the bottom line, what is the TCO or ROI a CIO can show his CFO with Arkin?
Enterprises are turning to software-defined data centers to make their infrastructure malleable while focusing on agile application delivery.  However, having flexible infrastructure is just one part of the story.  Our point of view is that operational transformation is needed along with infrastructure modifications.  If deployment is fast but troubleshooting and day-to-day operations are slow then ROI on SDDC goes down. This is where Arkin steps in. For example, at a large financial institution we were able to reduce troubleshooting time by 90 percent thus letting IT truly harness the power of SDDC.

Security is another focus area for IT organizations today. We all know the cost of a security breach can be very high and has the potential to bankrupt organizations. Micro-segmentation is better than perimeter-only security. However, the journey from traditional perimeter-based security models to a micro-segmented model is not easy. We enable organizations to plan and deploy a distributed, application-centric security model based on micro-segmentation. But then how does one ascertain it is indeed working as designed? For that we continuously monitor it for security consistency. In one particular instance, we were able to detect and send an alert on a failure days earlier than a traditional process would have detected it.

Lastly, the cost of training IT staff and keeping their knowledge current is astronomical.  Even if one takes industry standard certifications from traditional IT vendors this can easily run into the thousands of dollars per employee trained.  With the Arkin platform there is no need for such costly training to operate the software-defined data center.  With an intuitive Google-search like experience and other consumer and collaboration features, there is no additional training overhead to operationalize your SDDC.

Cisco and VMware have long been sparring over who owns the network. This has become interesting development in which Dell has acquired EMC, which owns a majority stake in VMware. What can be the implications to Arkin technology?
The industry seems to be consolidating.  However, from a technology perspective things have never been more diverse. Our enterprise customers continue to deal with disparate systems, multiple vendors, and complex architectures. Understanding, securing and managing disparate systems within increasingly complex data centers stand as a key barrier to software-defined data center adoption and operations.

In most cases organizations need to be prepared to take a multi-vendor approach to their software-defined data center. Arkin works not only across virtual and physical layers, but also supports most common platforms from vendors such as VMware, Cisco, Juniper, Dell, Palo Alto Firewalls to name just a few. It combines data from multiple sources into powerful visualizations of VXLANS, Net flows and Security groups, and VM to VM paths to provide a 360-degree view of the software-defined data center.

Data center management is a larger challenge for customers, including the large enterprises in India. How can you help?
By deploying Arkin, customers can unite the disparate elements within their data center as well as the teams dedicated to their operation. The platform is scalable to the largest of data centers and hybrid clouds running thousands of virtual machines and provides rapid search and analytics at that massive scale to match.

Within a few minutes of deployment of the platform the distributed back-end collects and analyzes data from thousands of components in real time to solve day-to-day operations problems, a critical process for globalized organizations. This data, which traditionally required days to generate and multiple tools to stitch together, is now rapidly processed and accessed using the plain English Google-like search and elegantly visualized for deeper understanding.

The Arkin platform generates a relationship graph that bridges all silos of compute, network, security and storage and, when combined with its collaborative framework offers multinational operations teams the tools necessary for easy, efficient, and immediate collaboration.

There is a widening gap between infrastructure and operations, essentially since these technologies have exposed the limitations in traditional or legacy operations
There is a massive transformation unfolding when it comes to IT infrastructure.  Converged infrastructure and software-defined approaches are changing the face of the data center.  Yet operations have not kept pace with these changes. Legacy models break when it comes to these newer infrastructure constructs.

Often they are also extremely focused on specific silos. Arkin is truly transforming IT operations by bringing together the seemingly disparate silos of compute, network, security and storage.  When we set out to build the platform we purposefully designed it so that we could connect these silos in a contextual fashion. We have successfully built a platform that is transforming IT operations, as we know it. Visualization and analytics not only transcend traditional IT silos, they also provide rich context.  Our vision is one of a silo free IT operations organization.  We believe as infrastructure converges and software-defined becomes the norm, IT operations will also need to keep pace.

What are the other trends that are driving growth for Arkin?
There are 3 unique trends that are shaping our industry and specifically IT as it serves the needs of business.

Software-defined technologies such as software-defined networking, software-defined storage, distributed firewalls etc. are becoming the norm. Given the additional layers and complexity these technologies introduce Arkin is well poised to provide complete operations capabilities for these environments.

Second, there is a sweeping transformation when it comes to security within the data center.  Enterprises today face tremendous challenges in migrating from a legacy, perimeter based security model to more modern, distributed, application-centric approaches. The ability to partition networks, to view flows across virtual machines in excruciating details, to understand firewalls at a granular level all can be provided easily within the Arkin Platform.  This is an area we are seeing a lot of demand come in.

Lastly, converged and hyper-converged systems are now becoming more and more commonplace in data centers.  The benefits of bringing together compute, network, security and storage together to serve the application needs are big.  Arkin’s unique value proposition is bringing converged operations to the data center.

What are the two to three key things that will drive demand in the next two to three years?
Along with the proliferation of software-defined data centers the other key changes to watch for in the next few years will be enterprise adoption of hybrid clouds.  We find more and more enterprises are entertaining the aspect of leveraging the lower TCO and looking at infrastructure as purely OPEX by moving business critical workloads to the cloud.

Additionally, with success in movements such as DevOps, the need for IT operations silos to collaborate and work together will move from being additional organizational leverage to a required core competency. Tools and platforms that continue to perpetuate the silo based IT operations model will fall by the way side. Across infrastructure modernization, security improvements and hybrid cloud adoption, and operational convergence Arkin is well poised for current and future growth.

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