Sachin Agarwal

The vision of cloud as a realm of limitless scalability, on-demand data and global application delivery is no longer hearsay.  Large enterprises are deploying their mission-critical applications to the public cloud, and several have been experimenting with their own private cloud (private datacenter), taking cues from how Google and Facebook have been running their own infrastructure. The latter examples now represent some of the largest private datacenters and are laying the ground for disrupting innovations in this space.

The Software Defined Datacenter

Private datacenters started with server virtualization, enabling enterprises to roll out applications on virtual machines, which can then be deployed on a farm of commodity servers. Innovations in technology are now extending virtualization to all aspects of the datacenter infrastructure – server, system software, storage and network. This has evolved to what we now know as a Software Defined Datacenter (SDDC), in which all physical aspects of the datacenter—servers, storage, networking, are created, provisioned and decommissioned entirely via software.

Organizations are embracing the SDDC approach to manage a model of a unified IT asset (e.g., rack, aisle, network port, storage capacity, or entire datacenter of converged IT infrastructure) by leveraging their hypervisor, network fabric manager, storage virtualization, and IT automation at the software console level.

At the heart of SDDC are software-based controllers that address management, control and virtualization of the underlying hardware resources. There are several open standards as well as vendor-specific solutions available to address this – OpenStack, Open Compute, OpenDaylight, and VSphere among them. However, as organizations are moving up from hardware, they are having to make more decisions: which software stack to choose, dealing with variances among different standards, as well as dealing with the possibility of an uber-standard that could hopefully govern all elements of the datacenter (and we know how that goes…).

APIs for the Datacenter

In order to enhance the datacenter experience and control the environment from the application themselves, virtualization and software controllers provide APIs. These APIs allow developers and administrators to integrate applications and other workloads into the respective compute, network or storage environments. For instance, OpenFlow allows a controller to define the behavior of switches at the bottom of the software defined networking (SDN) stack, and the northbound APIs to the controller presents a network abstraction interface to the applications and management systems at the top of the SDN stack. The northbound API encapsulates these capabilities and weaves together higher-level constructs that allow applications to do useful things on top of the controller. Without a northbound API, all network applications must come directly from the equipment vendors, which makes it more difficult to innovate in datacenter.

The Datacenter API Platform

There are now several APIs from the various open standards and vendors (OpenStack, OpenFlow, VSphere etc.). However it is still challenging for organizations to build applications that can leverage a truly heterogeneous datacenter infrastructure. They need to be aware of the different API models and their specific notations. Moreover, there are several white spaces in the current standards that do not completely address the needs of applications that need to be then filled on an ad hoc basis by the organizations. Managing security and access to these APIs is on a complete orthogonal plane and not addressed by the respective API providers.

This is where we saw the need of a Datacenter API Platform. SOA Software’s Datacenter API Platform adds flexibility and efficiency to the “software-defined datacenter” (SDDC). It abstracts datacenter resources from applications and enables resource management through a consistent API mechanism regardless of hardware specifications or the idiosyncrasies of vendor-specific APIs. By decoupling datacenter resources such as compute, storage and networking from underlying hardware, the Datacenter API Platform transforms them into dynamic, software-based services.

The SOA Software Datacenter API Platform also provides capabilities like security and access management for the respective APIs, ensuring that only authorized applications can access the APIs. Built-in orchestration and mediations capabilities in the API Platform normalizes the idiosyncrasies in the vendor-specific APIs so that developers can focus on creating the next generations cloud-aware or datacenter-aware applications that can dynamically scale-up or down, across different geographies, in an efficient manner based on the demands on the their specific business. The Datacenter API Platform also provides best practices and fills in white spaces in the evolving standards.

Following are some of the benefits of the Datacenter API Platform:

  • Allows developers and administrators tap into datacenter resources through APIs exposed by their respective software-based controllers.
  • Creates an API-driven, software-defined data center with a consistent API management mechanism.
  • Decouples and manages resources as secured APIs.
  • Securely connects applications and infrastructure through policy definition and enforcement.
  • Establishes open, many-to-many resource integration through message protocol transformation.
  • Builds infrastructure flexibility that avoids vendor lock-in.
  • Enables cloud-native applications to be aware of and in control of their own environments through APIs that allow applications to dynamically provision and de-provision resources based on projected levels of demand.

Please stay tuned to the SOA Software blog as we provide more updates on our Datacenter API Platform.

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