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8 More Benefits of Software-Defined Servers

In my last blog, I touched on some of the benefits that make Software-Defined Servers the crucial missing piece of the software-defined data center.  Now it’s time to look closer at why Software-Defined Servers are so beneficial, and to whom.

The truth is, virtually everyone profits to some degree when you can scale your system to the size of your problem. And when you can do it on demand, with standard hardware and with no changes to software, the benefits multiply further.  For instance, data scientists and analysts can create on-demand servers with all the cores and memory they need to solve their biggest problems. And developers can write applications that take advantage of as many cores as they need – no more waiting for the server of the future.

Both of those groups are natural benefactors here. But Software-Defined Servers are just as much of a windfall for data center managers trying to extract maximum value from their existing assets, as well as their colleagues working to reduce OpEx and CapEx. In a world populated by static, inflexible IT environments and underutilized (even comatose) zombie servers, Software-Defined Servers represent an entirely new way to drive ROI and operational efficiency across an organization.

Here are eight reasons why.

  • Your mild-mannered daytime server becomes a monster machine by night. Many workloads ebb once office hours are up, leaving pricey resources to sit idle until work resumes. Software-Defined Servers allow you to marshal multiple servers during off hours in the service of challenging workloads. Think of it this way: A Virtual Desktop Server works 40 hours a week. But a Software-Defined Server works 24x7x365. Which would you rather have?
  • You can be ready for workload and traffic spikes, even when you don’t expect them. Sometimes you know when workloads will increase – at quarter’s end, perhaps, or on Cyber Monday – and sometimes spikes just happen. Trouble is, you have to be ready for both. The usual answer is peak provisioning, which reminds me of a popular tale about how Amazon came to start AWS.  The story goes that around 2000, Amazon awoke after a successful holiday shopping blitz to the realization that its huge inventory of servers deployed to accommodate holiday transactions now would likely sit dormant for months without something else to occupy them. And so AWS was born. While that’s not quite how AWS came to be, any IT manager who has over-provisioned to ensure their data center can handle peak periods will relate to the idea of averting disaster by beefing up resources. With Software-Defined Servers, peak provisioning can be built into your environment with little to no outlays for additional hardware. It all happens in software, and it all happens on hardware you already own.
  • You can reduce costs by provisioning fewer server SKUs. Flexibility means you don’t need to invest in proprietary platforms with specialized hardware.  A collection of cost-effective, industry-standard, commodity systems can, in minutes, become the largest server you’ve ever used.
  • You can say goodbye to vendor lock-in. Massive scalability often comes at a massive price tag, with vendors more than happy to sell you a grand, flexible capacity architecture that works great…so long as you keep buying from them. Software-Defined Servers mothball this old, expensive model because they work with commodity server hardware and standard Ethernet – proven technologies that are widely available at competitive prices.
  • You can extend the life of your servers. Imagine if you no longer have to buy more server than you need today for fear of needing more from that hardware 18 months from now – and yet, that server remains as relevant and useful down the line as it did the day you deployed it. Software-Defined Servers put any industry-standard server to work as part of a larger, powerful system. Even older systems pitch in and do their bit.
  • You can make your sweet spot server even sweeter. With a sweet spot server, you determine the optimal number of sockets and cores, the optimal processor speeds, and the RAM needed to handle most workloads. The focus isn’t on how much you can cram into a server, but how much return you can get from a cost-effective investment. And typically, that sweet spot server relies on standard technologies and Ethernet networks. With Software-Defined Servers, you’ll get more from those servers because they suddenly become part of a larger, singular whole. A 512GB system, for instance, can – with no coding or modifications to applications or operating systems -- become a node within a single 20TB system, while contributing its processors and I/O as well. Then it returns to normal duty when your needs change.
  • You can finally enjoy the flexibility you’ve longed for. One of the great benefits of Software-Defined Servers is that you don’t just have the ability to create one huge system from many individual servers – you can configure your virtual system any way you want.  TidalScale’s HyperKernel software allows you to arrange your population of nodes in any configuration that gives you the cores, memory and I/O you need to solve the problem at hand. If you’re working with a couple dozen nodes, you actually have thousands of configuration options at your disposal. Need one 10TB system and three 2TB systems? Done. Thirty cores on one system and 44 on another? You got it. Turn cores on and off when it suits your application and workload? No problem. All combined resources are under your control, to assemble as you see fit.
  • You can delight your boss (and your boss’s boss). To C-level executives across an organization, what at first may seem like an esoteric exercise in IT resource utilization will soon become something more when projects are finished sooner, services are delivered more reliably, and IT has the opportunity to say “yes” more often. The result? Businesses operate more efficiently and with greater agility, and improved ROI. Those are things C-level execs care about. A lot.

These benefits can boost the operational metrics by which every organization is measured. Driving down costs, improving ROI, squeezing more life out of aging assets -- it’s all there. 

Watch our Data Science Central Webinar today to see some of the performance benefits of Software-Defined Servers. Also, check out the presentations and white papers we've made available about TidalScale.

Topics: software-defined server, TidalScale

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