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Reinventing the datacentre with SDI

Intel is challenging traditional infrastructure models. See how SDI can help your business avoid datacenter hell.

Recent network service disruptions experienced by several ISPs has highlighted serious problems faced by businesses employing traditional datacentre architecture. As it turns out, the root cause of these issues was largely attributed to critical networking infrastructure simply running out of memory. While the limitations of older hardware are widely known, the high cost of upgrading existing infrastructure and the potential for further disruption forced many enterprises to delay implementation of such critical projects until it was too late. Could this trouble be avoided? Intel's SDI combined with the latest Intel Xeon E5 v3 CPU may be the answer.

Software Defined Infrastructure (SDI) presents a model in which cloud computing resources are managed and controlled by software rather than human operators. Often referred to as "the one architecture to rule them all", SDI enables application developers to define a complete set of infrastructure requirements that can then be automatically allocated and provisioned on demand. In an attempt to make infrastructure more agile and cost effective through SDI, Intel has identified three major catalysts: Software-defined networking (SDN), network function virtualisation (NFV), and software-defined storage (SDS).

Software-defined networking (SDN) aims to centralise and simplify the administration of networking services by abstracting complex, low-level functionality. This is achieved through separation of the control plane (the system that decides where network traffic must be sent) from the data plane (the system that ensures that network traffic is forwarded to the correct destination). Major objectives driving SDN deployment include reducing the amount of time required to create new network services, simplifying network provisioning, and real-time optimisation of network configurations.

Network function virtualisation (NFV) proposes that network functionality provided by independent devices be virtualised so that they can be connected or chained together to create higher-level communication services. This approach allows business to simplify their network, scale up or down services quickly when required, and consolidate network services onto standard virtualisation hardware to reduce cost.

Software-defined storage (SDS) is a concept that facilitates the separation of storage hardware from the software used to manage the storage infrastructure. This provides the opportunity for enterprise to replace expensive specialised storage systems such as SANs with standard, off-the-shelf Intel servers to deliver storage as a standardised service. This allows storage optimisation through automated provisioning and tiering systems, and more cost-effective scalability on heterogeneous systems across any location.

These fundamental catalysts are all policy-based software automation processes. Based on these processes, Intel's SDI model proposes three distinct layers:

  1. Orchestration layer: Manages cloud workloads and implements policies to provision, configure, and control application resources
  2. Composition layer: Manages configuration and monitors the performance of both physical and virtual infrastructure
  3. Hardware pool: Maintains an abstract list of physical hardware resources.

Business can take advantage of the benefits provided by SDI by deploying a virtualised cloud computing environment with OpenStack that utilises Intel Xeon E5 v3 technology as the first step. Intel's newest flagship CPU extends Trusted Execution Technology (TXT) through the introduction of Trusted Compute Pools (TCP), allowing cloud operators to isolate virtual workloads into trusted pools.This technology is tightly integrated with OpenStack Compute, enhances workload visibility, and allows more granular control over policy compliance, which is necessary when working within the SDI framework.

Orchestration capabilities implemented by OpenStack's Heat module represent the top layer of Intel's SDI model. Telemetry and dashboard modules such as Ceilometer and Horizon provide composition services. Core OpenStack modules Neutron, Cinder, and Swift provide specific networking and storage services necessary for developing software-defined infrastructure. Intel's commitment to SDI and continuing investment in OpenStack will help enterprises build flexible infrastructure capable of creating value, as well as increasing operational efficiencies.