The IT industry is littered with acronyms and buzz words that change at such a rapid pace that few can actually keep up with what they truly mean. Just as one settles in to our conversations, another one pops up to keep us on our toes. IT professionals can be bombarded by these terms, leaving them with a great buzz-word bingo fodder, but not with any meaningful value.
For example, cloud computing is being worked into nearly every IT conversation at every level within a company, including end-users, executives, and IT. True, the cloud can be murky by definition, but the term works and it is leading to great IT strategic conversations across businesses and the IT industry as a whole. Then comes the term “Software Defined X.” OMG!
First of all, last I checked, just about everything in IT is software defined. I’m pretty confident that even the facilities that house the IT gear is software defined with badge readers, HVAC controls, video monitoring, etc. So is the car I drive to work. It all runs on software. And software defined is a great way to explain how things work to the layman, but does very little other than describe how weighted or not a particular piece of technology derives its value from the software.
Aside from the intricacies that software defined is going to create from a marketing and go-to market challenge for the IT vendor community, it is a terrible term for IT. I could challenge any IT department to go in at an executive level and have a valuable and productive conversation on cloud computing. What do you think would happen if I presented the same challenge and asked them to talk about their software defined strategy? #FAIL
I’ll put one caveat out there. I do think that from a cloud computing network architecture and design conversation, that the term "software defined networking" makes some good sense, but beyond networking, trying to bring software defined anything into a strategic IT business conversation does nothing to arm IT with becoming a strategic part of any business.