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Benefits of a Software-Defined Data Center: Agility, Security, Economy

When it’s time to make improvements to your organization’s IT infrastructure, there’s a lot to consider — your IT strategy, your current environment and hardware, your budget and your team, for starters.

The IT leadership at one large credit union in the Southwest understood the importance of evolving their technology while maintaining the utmost security for their more than 350,000 members and keeping costs in check. And when it was time to make infrastructure improvements, they called in a partner that understood their vision and could help them smartly develop and advance a thoughtful strategy.

Assessing the Benefits of a Software-Defined Data Center

As the team explored upgrading their infrastructure, the credit union’s new IT and infrastructure network manager was introduced to MicroAge solutions experts Daniel Archer and Martha Banister. The manager, along with members of his team, attended various MicroAge events, including a VMware NSX Social Lab, which included hands-on product demonstrations.

“The Social Labs are a great opportunity to get hands-on use with new and emerging technologies,” says MicroAge Director of Practice Management Perry Peterson. “This really sparked the client’s interest not only in NSX, but the SDDC as a whole. Leveraging our relationship with the local VMware team, we followed the event with an onsite meeting with the IT team, where we white-boarded the concept and benefits of a software-defined data center.”

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The credit union’s network manager was enticed by the flexibility a software-defined data center (SDDC) would provide.

“A software-defined data center is more hardware-agnostic than traditional environments,” Daniel says. “It leaves you more flexible for growth and planning in the future. And it makes you a lot more nimble to react to your business’ needs.”

Storage and Security in the SDDC

In building the client’s SDDC, VMware’s vSAN was a key component. vSAN allows IT teams to extend virtualization to storage, creating a hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI). It’s designed to work with your existing software and hardware. And VMware boasts that it’s the “first native HCI security solution.”

“Another one of the benefits of a software-defined data center is that vSAN is a scale-as-you-grow model that allows you to not have to forecast your growth as accurately as you would with a traditional SAN,” Daniel notes. “And because there’s no vendor lock on the hardware, you can buy one brand of servers today and change to something else in the future if you want.”

The next piece of the solution was VMware NSX Network Virtualization and Security Platform, which lets IT teams create networks in software and embed them in the hypervisor layer. It also delivers micro-segmentation and granular security for a fundamentally more secure data center.

[Infographic] VMware NSX: A Better Approach to Data Center Security

“It gives you the ability to decouple your networking from the hardware, so you can create, manage, deploy and re-provision networks on the fly,” Perry explains. Micro-segmentation and limiting east-west traffic, he notes, is important for organizations like credit unions that must emphasize security.

Security is generally enforced at the perimeter, which is great for north-south traffic,” Perry explains. “But east-west traffic, or VM to VM communication, accounts for a significant amount of network traffic in data centers today. If hackers get through the initial firewall, they have free reign to jump from application to application. Micro-segmentation makes it possible to place a logical firewall between every VM, allowing you to enforce security rules at the VM level.”

MicroAge and VMware arranged for a proof of concept on vSAN and NSX for the network manager and his team, which helped them conclude that this solution was perfect for them.

And by managing their storage through vCenter, storage management complexity has been reduced as well.

Hard data is still forthcoming, but the credit union’s IT team has already expressed that this solution is providing a huge savings in terms of both hard costs and time spent managing the environment. But perhaps even more importantly, it’s taken the team from reactionary to innovative.

“It’s an organizational shift in strategy. When you virtualize different components of the data center, you’re bringing infrastructure components together and reducing complexity,” Perry adds. “This solution is giving the credit union’s IT team time to be more forward-thinking and move them out of the break-fix mindset. They can add more value — and move from a cost center to a competitive advantage.”

Ready to see for yourself the benefits of a software-defined data center?

Daniel Archer and Martha Banister can make it happen. They’ll work with you on strategic planning and on through deployment. Contact Daniel at 480-366-2125 or daniel.archer@microage.com or Martha at 480-366-2127 or martha.banister@microage.com.

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Daniel Archer
10 Years Experience
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Martha Banister
17 Years Experience
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