There’s a lot of talk these days about software-defined infrastructure (SDI), but the one things that is for certain is that when it comes to infrastructure convergence there is no turning back now.

According to Raghu Raghuram, executive vice president and general manager for the software-defined data center at VMware (VMW), the IT industry as a whole has now reached a fork in the road. Legacy approaches to managing IT that required extensive systems integration just don’t work at scale. In their place we’re seeing the emergence of converged infrastructure that enables compute, storage and networking to all be logically managed together. The decision that IT service providers have to make now is how quickly they will embrace an IT trend that is all but inevitable, said Raghuram.

Scaling IT without scaling costs

Driving all this convergence, said Raghuram, is simple economics. The single most expensive component of IT is still labor. Organizations simply can’t afford to keep throwing people at the IT management equation. Managing IT at scale requires much greater reliance on automation, which in turn Raghuram said is blurring the lines in terms of IT job functions across the data center.

For MSPs this convergence can’t occur none too soon. Most of them are limited in their ability to take on new clients simply because they can’t find enough IT talent with the right set of skills. While the industry as a whole can work towards making more IT talent available, it would be a whole lot simpler for all concerned if IT itself simply became easier to manage.

Leveraging virtual machines

Raghuram said one of the first manifestations of all this convergence has been the rapid adoption of VMware VSAN, which moves the management of all the storage attached to virtual machines into the province of the server administrator. As the VMware management framework continues to evolve Raghuram said the entire rack itself, rather than any of its components, will become the new unit of measurement inside the data center.

Naturally, this transformation of how IT is managed will affect all IT environments. But MSPs have some of the most compelling financial motives to be at the forefront of this change. Nowhere is the cost of IT labor felt more acutely because it not only impacts cost, it directly impacts the degree to which MSPs can scale.

MSPs and their customers, of course, may not be all that excited about having to forklift upgrade all their systems to attain those savings. But clearly, the ones that do it first are going to have a significant competitive edge over those that find themselves tied to legacy IT management frameworks that are inherently more expensive to deploy and maintain.