We often say that Software Defined Infrastructure – whether that be Software Defined Networking, Software Defined Infrastructure ( such as Virtualization, Containerization or Cloud) or even Software Defined Data Center – separates the control from the data plane. But maybe the true innovation is that in SDx, in general, we disconnect the software and hardware innovation life cycles. Software evolves much faster and allows for greater flexibility and speed of innovation. Allowing this rapid evolution is the kernel of the SDx revolution.
We can turn up new features, capabilities, and services, quickly without waiting for a hardware refresh cycle. It used to be that rapid change was the sole domain of user software. Suddenly we see the core infrastructure evolving at the same rate as the apps on our smartphone. (OK, I am exaggerating a bit, but I am not far from the truth).
That being said – there is another revolution that many technical people miss, and it is the rapid change in our business processes. Literally, the entire way we do business is changing, and these changes are only accelerating. Companies are looking to build agile processes that can allow them to pivot quickly to take advantage of new business opportunities while shedding unprofitable ventures.
These combined business and technological changes are coming together to create a climate where IT teams are being asked to adopt new technologies and put them into production at an ever-increasing pace. This is putting an unprecedented strain on the people on these teams. They have to quickly master the many new technologies, put them into production and possibly sunset older initiatives while keeping service availability at 100%. And of course – do it with the same team, because unlike requirements, budgets aren’t increasing.
The good news is that the advent of SDx and its decoupling of Control and Data planes has brought the status of APIs as a mandatory first class citizen. For the first time vendors were absolutely required to support open APIs as a mandatory part of their offering. This, in turn, opens the door for next generation Automation.
We no longer have to wait for vendors to implement integrations with other systems. We can do it ourselves. We can take an event from our monitoring system, log a ticket in our cloud base ticketing system, and trigger an action in a router for example, without regard to whether the two vendors have built integrations or even like each other. We can implement it ourselves and align it with our business needs.
This is where low-code / no-code automation enters the picture! Platforms such as Pliant.io allow skilled technical people to create these types of integrations in minutes or hours, not days or weeks.