Blog

Software-Defined Everything

Joe McKendrick
Insurance Experts' Forum, July 28, 2014

I was talking with a CIO at a conference a couple months back who half-jokingly made the comment that we're on the verge of having software-defined CIOs run our tech affairs.

Is “software defined” — as in software-defined networking, software-defined storage, software-defined data center and, ultimately, software-defined enterprise — just another vendor buzzword, or does it mean something to IT's future?

Theoretically, “software-defined” means an entire physical infrastructure is virtualized into bits, bytes and code so configuration changes can be made right on the screen without all the muscle work of disconnecting and reconnecting cables, plugging in servers or swapping out boards. (At least software-defined at the administrative level — no matter how software-defined you may be — still needs physical systems somewhere to make it all possible.)

What does it take to transition to a software-defined infrastructure? John Moore outlined the building blocks in a recent issue of GCN. While his discussion focused on government agencies, there's plenty of takeaways for the insurance industry as well.

There are four main pieces to the software-defined puzzle:

1. Server virtualization: Operating systems and accompanying applications are hosted within a virtual partition on a server that may be running another OS. For example, you can run the Linux OS and applications on the same server that's running Windows.

2. Software-defined storage (SDS): Often referred to as storage virtualization, this technology “creates a single pool of storage from multiple, physical storage devices,” Moore explains. “A software layer then provisions storage to applications that need it and provides functions such as policy management, replication and backup.”

3. Software defined networking (SDN): “As with storage, SDN relies on a software layer that takes on the complexities of infrastructure management,” Moore explains. “SDN lets IT administrators program all of the devices on a network through a software controller, rather than configuring switches and other networking gear individually.”

4. The software-defined data center (SDDC): “More vision than reality at this point, the SDDC pulls together server and storage virtualization,” says Moore. “The idea is that software can tap resources across the data center to readily provision compute and storage as needed.”

It seems that the industry already has been moving toward these four pieces with various initiatives — especially cloud computing. But while cloud has been concentrated at the application and data layer, these new software-defined elements bring virtualization to physical machines themselves. 

Joe McKendrick is an author, consultant, blogger and frequent INN contributor specializing in information technology.

Readers are encouraged to respond to Joe using the “Add Your Comments” box below. He can also be reached at joe@mckendrickresearch.com.

This blog was exclusively written for Insurance Networking News. It may not be reposted or reused without permission from Insurance Networking News.

The opinions of bloggers on www.insurancenetworking.com do not necessarily reflect those of Insurance Networking News.

Comments (1)

Point 4 is essentially private cloud infrastructure, which is a reality - see OpenStack or Vblock.

Posted by: Chris D | July 28, 2014 8:51 PM

Report this Comment

Add Your Comments...

Already Registered?

If you have already registered to Insurance Networking News, please use the form below to login. When completed you will immeditely be directed to post a comment.

Forgot your password?

Not Registered?

You must be registered to post a comment. Click here to register.

Blog Archive

Trends in P&C and L/H/A Policy Administration Systems

Novarica research shows that nearly 40 percent of P&C and life/health/annuity carriers are currently replacing or planning to replace a policy administration system.

Product Configurators: Moving Insurers toward Self-Sufficiency

Insurers may like a vendor’s full service model for updating policy content rules, but they don’t want to be held captive if the vendor doesn’t offer fast speed-to-market.

How Quote Data Can Deliver Powerful Business Insights

Quote data often is disregarded due to its volume, but properly managed can offer insights into product and pricing strategy, expense control, cross selling and upselling.

Insurers: Let's Be The Best

I don’t like when insurance companies are hectored by people inside or outside of the industry about how they aren’t innovative. Many insurers are leading the way in gleaning real results from emerging technology disciplines, including big data, analytics, mobile technology, and telematics.

6 Crucial Guidelines for Digital Insurers

Going digital isn’t just something that can be accomplished by decree. It takes finesse to keep everything in sync.

Top Stories in Property/Casualty

Novarica Commentaries are available to clients only, but we’ve posted direct links to some of the most important stories below.