OODA Loops and the Software-Defined Data Center

August 16th, 2013 by

For those not familiar with “OODA” loops (Observe, Orient, Decide, Act), the concept was introduced by a fighter pilot and military flight instructor called John Boyd.  The key concept of the OODA loop is that to achieve success in air-to-air combat, the pilot needs to create situations where he can make decisions more quickly than his opponent.  From Wikipedia, Harry Hillaker (chief designer of the F-16) said of the OODA theory, “Time is the dominant parameter. The pilot who goes through the OODA cycle in the shortest time prevails because his opponent is caught responding to situations that have already changed.”

Over time, the theory of the OODA loop has been applied to everything from business, sports teams and start-ups.  So how does it apply to the software-defined data center?

Virtualization brought about a radical change to the data center by decoupling the logical from the physical and introducing so called “control points” (vMotion and Storage vMotion, for example) that allow unprecedented flexibility to adjust resource allocation and workload placement.  These control points have spread beyond compute to storage, and now networking (as proven by VMware’s $1.2 billion acquisition of Nicira last year), and hence the “software-defined data center” (SDDC).

Where is the OODA loop for the software-defined data center?

We can likely expect further announcements at VMworld around how these control points are spreading far and wide across the data center (and likely deeper into the network), but a fundamental question remains, “where is the OODA loop for the software-defined data center?”  In other words, how will the plethora of control points be leveraged to provide the agility, and operational and capital efficiencies at the scale and speed promised by the software-defined data center?

To go back to the concept of fighter pilots and aircraft for a minute, the reality is that modern aircraft, like the modern software-defined data center, have thousands of control points—and are even designed to fly aerodynamically unstable so that they can achieve greater agility.  These aircraft cannot be flown without a control system in place.

At VMTurbo, we deliver a software-defined control system so that IT can deliver on the promise of the software-defined data center and realize the resulting agility, and operational and infrastructure efficiencies desired by the business.  Isn’t it time you considered an OODA loop for your data center?

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