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October 2012, Volume 1, Issue 1

Introducing the software-defined data center

A few years ago, someone asked me what I thought about the future of storage in the data center. At the time, I quipped that we'd eventually just have giant piles of solid-state memory, and software would differentiate vendors. Look around the data center today and you see it happening, not only in storage but other areas as well. Custom application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs) in network switches are being replaced by "merchant silicon," a fancy name for commodity processors from Intel and AMD. The core features of servers among vendors are becoming indistinguishable. And the storage arrays are really just Intel servers themselves, often running Linux or embedded Windows, with a lot of network interfaces and drives. It's the software, stupid So what distinguishes one vendor from another? It's software. Software is what implements incredibly fast, low-latency networks on top of commodity processors as exemplified by companies like Arista Networks. Intelligent software is what enables storage vendors to eschew expensive "...

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