IT in 2011: My Predictions
As we enter 2011, businesses are busily refining strategies for harnessing and leveraging IT in the year ahead and beyond. It’s crystal ball time once again, so based on countless interactions with CIOs, industry analysts, vendor executives and other thought leaders over the course of the past year, here are my predictions for the top trends that will impact IT in 2011.
The Need for Speed is Relentless: For IT departments, the need for speed comes in two flavors: How fast can we provision IT infrastructure to process a given workload? And, how fast can we process the workload itself and turn data into actionable information? Cloud computing affects speed of provisioning by enabling rapid deployment of certain application services via the Software as a Service (SaaS) model. Speed does not kill, slow kills. Here is what I mean by that - businesses are going to survive and thrive because their IT infrastructure is fast and agile.
Fabric-based Infrastructure Gains Traction: Converged data and storage network fabrics will move from prototype to deployment as the Data Center Bridging (DCB) standards become well understood and iSCSI and FCoE networks move into the mainstream. Fabric-based infrastructure that abstracts processors, network bandwidth and storage into federated pools of easily deployable IT infrastructure will move from lab trials to mainstream deployment.
Virtualization Deployed for Production Workloads: A recent IDC survey found that customers are looking to not only increase the use of virtual servers, but also to increase the number of virtual machines per physical server. IDC forecasts that virtualized server shipments will grow at twice the rate of the entire server market through 2014. I predict that a significant part of this growth is going to come from virtual servers becoming a popular platform for mainstream applications. And, with solutions like IBM System Networking’s VMready, data center networks that tie together servers running these mainstream applications can now be made Virtual Machine-aware, thus removing a critical barrier that prevented enterprises from not being able to virtualize their mainstream applications.
Time Sharing at a Bureau is Back in Fashion: The tremendous interest in cloud computing is warranted because of the cloud’s promise of greater ROI and improved efficiency. SaaS-based application delivery will continue to gain in popularity in 2011 as a ready means of cost reduction, and simplicity. It’s a proven model, people….remember the 80s when enterprises shared CPU cycles on a large mainframe in a data processing bureau? Driven by privacy and regulatory concerns surrounding mission-critical data and customer information, enterprises will turn to the hybrid cloud model, deploying private clouds for essential information and using hosted and/or public clouds for less-critical data and applications, where the cloud can provide cost reduction and capacity on demand.
The Data Center Becomes Ever More Strategic: With less-essential workloads offloaded to the cloud, the in-house data center will become a highly leveraged business asset. The data center will operate a mix of dedicated processing, virtual servers and private cloud computing, with each considered a strategic IT asset. The in-house data center will be looked to for the advantages of what I have termed “rackonomics” for the greater ROI and improved efficiencies that come from deploying standardized racks of compute, storage and networking infrastructure, and will also be valued for what others have termed “cloudonomics” and “convergonomics.” Regardless of the economic model, for many industries and IT tasks, the in-house data center will remain a strategic business asset.
Security and Mobility will Redefine the Data Center Edge: Enterprises and their customers are using smart devices, such as iPads and smart phones to access corporate applications, in record numbers. This ubiquitous use of mobile computing will require ever greater amounts of bandwidth and place greater demands on the network, both in terms of security and mobility.
2011 is the Year of Smarter Systems: A smarter system is one that is optimized for a given workload and one where all the essential elements – compute, storage, software, and the network that connects all these pieces together is pre-packaged in a rack or multiple racks ready-to-use. All the customer needs to do is plug this system into an electrical outlet and start using it….just like we use our laptops today.
Real-Time Analytics Drive Business Decision Making: More powerful computers and faster networks will enable businesses to make more-informed decisions. It will become increasingly possible to run predictive simulations and real-time business analytics that forecast futures, rather than to simply provide after-the-fact analysis, which promises significant breakthroughs in business results. For example, GM is using high-powered IBM computers to simulate crashes and find ways to both prevent crashes and improve passenger safety when collisions/accidents occur.
Data Centers Will Become the Most Expensive Piece of Real Estate Anywhere in the World: With so much capital being invested in IT infrastructure, the “occupancy rate” of the data center will remain a key concern. Blade servers will increasingly give IT departments the flexibility they need to add incremental compute power and enable higher utilization in the data center. Blade server architectures will continue to gain in acceptance and market share in 2011. I also expect a new wave of blade center technology innovations to take hold in the latter part of 2011.
All-in-all, 2011 is most certainly going to be the year of Information Technology and a very promising one at that.
What (Still) Keeps CIOs Awake At Night?
Last year, I wrote about the Information Technology (IT) related issues that keep the many CIOs I have met around the world awake at night. With 2010 behind us now, I thought it might be interesting to reflect on how IBM System Networking addressed for the issues/ pain points our customers spoke about.
1. An increasing reliance in IT to support the growing needs of the business has made scalability a major concern for CIOs. How do you scale the IT infrastructure in a cost effective manner to keep pace with the growing demands of the business? In 2010, CIOs saw dramatic increases in I/O driven by virtualization, high performance computing, video and other bandwidth-intensive uses and frequently chose IBM System Networking’s 10 Gigabit Ethernet switches to keep pace with this growth. IBM System Networking also delivered a single-chip 40 Gigabit Ethernet switch to bring terabit scale to the data center network.
2. More physical IT infrastructure is impacting data center space, power and cooling. This raises concerns about density – being able to pack more compute and storage capacity per square foot of raised floor so as to get the maximum return on data center building infrastructure. IBM System Networking introduced top-of-rack switches such as our IBM BNT RackSwitch G8052 and IBM BNT RackSwitch G8264 to enable the enterprises to build very high-density data center networks with four main characteristics – low latency, lossless, low cost, and low power.
3. With so much capital being invested in IT infrastructure, the question of maximizing utilization of this infrastructure is also top-of-mind. In the airline business they call this “yield management.” In the hospitality business, they call it “occupancy rates.” Innovations such as IBM System Networking’s VMready with Virtual Vision ensure that customers can virtualize their server infrastructure while maximizing virtual machine security, high availability, and mobility.
5. An increasing amount of sensitive information about businesses (customer and supplier information, costs and prices, contracts, sensitive intellectual property information, etc.), is going online. Protecting such information from getting in the wrong hands is of paramount importance and so security is very high on the CIO’s agenda. Security is increasingly required as an “embedded” characteristic of data center networks. IBM System Networking iFlow Director software enables the creation of wire-speed network security infrastructure and is rapidly gaining momentum in the market place.
6. And finally, more now than ever before, customers are very sensitive to total cost of ownership (TCO) of their IT infrastructure. IBM System Networking delivers a better end-to-end TCO to its customers that encompasses the compute, storage, and network elements of the IT infrastructure. Do a quick calculation on your cost & power savings with our TCO calculator.
I believe our industry indeed made significant progress in 2010 in helping CIOs address the issues that keep them awake at night. And, I am proud that IBM System Networking continues to play a key role in addressing these critical pain points.
System Networking and Data Center Efficiency Redefined
The value proposition for IBM System Networking is to provide the essential network connectivity solutions under the IBM brand to connect servers to servers, servers to storage and storage to storage. IBM System Networking offers a compelling alternative for customers seeking more efficient data centers with the greatest business value and lowest total cost of ownership for their data center networks.
System networking plays a critical role in customers’ server and storage buying decisions. Today, many customers are deploying IT infrastructure on an unprecedented scale – data centers are expanding from 5,000 to 50,000 and 100,000 servers. For such scale-out architectures, the system network plays a critical role. Consider density; if it requires three data centers to house 5,000 servers, how many data centers will it take to house 50,000 servers? The answer better not be 30! So, the system network must deliver the high-density networking required to support highly consolidated and massively virtualized data center infrastructures.
If you are a CIO undertaking an order of magnitude increase in infrastructure, you want to increase utilization through virtualization, which requires the system network to be virtualization aware. And of course, the system network is vital to the security of this infrastructure.
If you have an order of magnitude increase in infrastructure, much of the functionality required to solve deployment and management issues can reside on data center switches implemented within the system network.
As companies take their businesses online, rapid and accurate business intelligence becomes ever more critical, which requires the system network for fast transport of information to and from analytic engines.
If you are employing an order of magnitude more infrastructure, total cost of ownership is important, and companies spend 15 to 20% of their investment in infrastructure on the network.
To address CIO’s key strategic issues of scaling, density, utilization/virtualization, security, data management and cost ownership, system networking is the common thread. IBM is an incredibly reputable server and storage vendor, and you can see the critical role the network plays.
IBM Celebrates 100 Years
IBM is celebrating 100 years - a century of achievements that have changed the world. Across the decades, IBM has had a greater impact on business than any other company. IBM’s tradition of innovation is reflected by its leadership patent portfolio. For the past 18 years, IBM has received more U.S. patents than any other company, holding more than 40,000 patents worldwide. And IBM’s history of outstanding business performance and its strong balance sheet virtually define “blue chip company.”
A wonderful video explores how computers came to “Think” and ultimately change the world. Another fascinating video takes you through IBM’s 100 years of achievements. In 1913, IBM applies the Hollerith tabulating machine to industry for the first time. In 1930, IBM receives its first patent for a traffic signal timing system. In 1939, IBM demonstrates an early form of email at the New York World’s Fair. In 1951, the IBM 701 becomes the world’s first mass-produced electronic computer. IBM’s Deep Blue defeats the world chess champion in 1997. On and on . . .
A host of innovations such as the SABRE airline reservation system, the IBM PC, the invention of DRAM and RISC and IBM’s embrace of Linux helped shape the second half of the 20th century. In 1974, IBM created networking with System Networking Architecture (SNA), the first complete protocol stack for interconnecting computers.
Fast forward to 2011, and TCP/IP and Ethernet have become the de facto means for global business networking. And, IBM's acquisition of BLADE Network Technologies now signals IBM’s reentry into networking as a system networking innovator just as it turns 100 years young!
What will the next 100 years bring? It’s easy to predict computers that that use 10x less power and run 1,000 times faster. Systems are on the horizon that can sequence the human genome and systems that can think like you. Networks can be expected to become ever more virtual. Innovations like the IEEE’s 802.1Qbg Ethernet Virtual Bridging (EVB) standard are being championed by great minds such as IBM’s Renato Recio and Vijoy Pandey to equip system networks with the intelligence to anticipate the movement of Virtual Machines anywhere and everywhere in the enterprise.
The employees of IBM System Networking have gotten off to a great start.
What a momentous time for the accomplished employees coming into IBM through the BLADE Network Technologies acquisition along with networking stars within the IBM company who together formed the System Networking business to become part of IBM’s second century of innovation!
You can learn more by visiting IBM100.
The Cloud-Ready System Network
Today’s competitive business needs are driving the development of cloud-based data centers that are more cost-effective, agile, and scalable than ever before. Cloud computing places higher demands on the system network in areas such as speed, flexibility, virtualization, cost-effective operation and scalability. To meet the technical and business requirements of cloud computing, the networking layer of a cloud must offer high bandwidth and low latency, converged communications and storage, agile networks for virtual machine mobility, massive scalability and manageability and advanced energy efficiency.
The essential attributes of a cloud network include terabit scalability, predictable low latency, non-blocking throughput and high-speed interconnects using 1/10GbE and the emerging 40/100GbE. For example, the new IBM BNT RackSwitch G8264 delivers throughput of up 1.28 Terabits per second and with its single-chip architecture, low latency is delivered across all port combinations. To bring even more bandwidth to the cloud, the RackSwitch G8264 is among the industry’s first top-of-rack switches with 40GbE interconnects.
One of the main advantages of cloud computing is on-demand access to resources, and virtualization plays a key role in providing those resources. IBM System Networking's VMready network virtualization software enables cloud computing infrastructures with mobile, active virtual machines. Cloud computing users can gain even greater advantages from mobile virtual machines when they can be moved securely and with predictable performance not only within a cloud, but over greater distances to connect multiple clouds. Movement between clouds enables applications such as disaster recovery and data replication.
Today, cloud computing environments are deploying IT infrastructure on an unprecedented scale – data centers are expanding from 5,000 to 50,000 and 100,000 servers. For such scale-out architectures, the system network must deliver the high-density networking required to support highly consolidated and massively virtualized data center infrastructures. Today’s “flat” network topologies enabled through standards such as TRILL (Transparent Interconnection of Lots of Links) are key to this scalability.
Power and cooling are some of the biggest expenses of operating a cloud data center. A common estimate for data center cooling and distribution costs is two watts for every single watt consumed by data center equipment and networking gear is 10 to 15% of the entire infrastructure —so choosing the most energy-efficient network components is essential. As clouds grow to thousands of servers and beyond, per-component power savings are magnified into hundreds of thousands of kilowatts.
From a business perspective, the system network architecture for today’s cloud computing applications must support incremental deployment that does not require razing an existing facility and building a new one. And as new pieces of the cloud are fitted into place, IT managers don’t want to be locked into a single-vendor implementation for any aspect of the solution. They want the freedom to select best-in-class hardware and software components, and they want to deploy new capacity as rapidly as possible. For example, IBM has extended Tivoli's virtualization management capabilities so that it can provision and deploy hundreds or thousands of virtual machines an hour for large-scale enterprise cloud implementations.
IBM BNT RackSwitch 8264 Excels in Independent Test
Third-party product testing can provide a valuable resource for determining which networking products are best suited to customer needs. Third-party tests can often be accomplished on a much more extensive level with more products tested, more test equipment used and more test parameters evaluated than any single client could accomplish on their own. Consider a new independent performance test, which validates that the IBM BNT RackSwitch G8264 10/40 Gigabit Ethernet switch demonstrates significant performance and energy efficiency advantages over other top-of-rack switches offered in the market.
In the performance test conducted by The Tolly Group, the IBM BNT RackSwitch G8264 consistently demonstrated 100-percent line-rate throughput, lower latency, and the capability to buffer more packets than similar products in the markets, while providing an additional 16 10GbE ports, or 160Gbps more capacity than all other switches tested.
In addition to the performance advantages, the IBM BNT RackSwitch G8264 consumed up fewer Watts per Gbps than all other switches tested. The IBM BNT RackSwitch G8264 also demonstrated an average of 55% better price/performance than the three other switches.
Kevin Tolly, founder of the Tolly Group had this to say, “Today’s data centers are serving content for fixed and mobile clients across large scale public and private cloud computing clusters. Video rendering, high frequency trading and oil reservoir simulations are just a few examples of the complex applications being served over computing clusters connected at 10 Gigabit Ethernet (10GbE). The IBM BNT RackSwitch G8264 is a high-density 10GbE Top-of- Rack (ToR) switch with a powerful combination of the performance, low latency and energy efficiency required for today’s consolidated networking and storage traffic as well as server virtualization.”
The Tolly Group’s test clearly demonstrates the performance and energy efficiency advantages of the IBM BNT RackSwitch G8264. We are proud that IBM System Networking’s RackSwitch products indeed excel at delivering intelligence and speed at the edge of the network, the essential access, distribution and aggregation layers where essential server and storage systems are connected to the data center network.
OpenFlow – Next-Generation Networking for a Smarter Planet
We are seeing dramatic shifts as our planet becomes smarter. Every aspect of life is benefiting from the instrumentation, interconnection and the infusion of intelligence into the systems of the world. Networking is no exception, and the emerging OpenFlow specification promises a greater level of intelligence in Ethernet networks through a new approach called Software-Defined Networking (SDN).
OpenFlow is a network protocol that has been developed over the past six years at Stanford University. It was initially created for researchers and universities as a tool to allow experimentation with new protocols and is now showing great promise for today’s highly virtualized enterprise and cloud computing networks.
IBM is an industry leader in network virtualization technology and cloud computing through IBM System Networking's VMready product and is actively participating in the standardization of virtualization in networks through our leadership contribution to the IEEE 802.1Qbg standard. IBM is actively involved in OpenFlow technology.
OpenFlow is being promoted by the Open Networking Foundation formed by six companies that own and operate some of the largest networks in the world — Deutsche Telekom, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Verizon and Yahoo! — as well as 17 member companies, including IBM and other major equipment vendors, networking and virtualization software suppliers and chip technology providers. OpenFlow is a disruptive technology that enables customers to choose their networking hardware and software separately in order to design best-of-breed data center solutions.
There are many applications for OpenFlow in modern networks. For example:
- A network administrator could create on-demand “express lanes” for voice and data traffic that are time-sensitive.
- Software could also be used to combine several fiber optic links into a larger virtual pipe for temporarily handing a particularly heavy flow of traffic, and then have the channels automatically separate again when the data rush is over.
- Service providers could use OpenFlow to help build a Smarter Planet by offering remote services such as home security or energy management.
- In cloud computing environments, OpenFlow improves scalability and enables resources to be shared efficiently among different services in response to the number of users.
OpenFlow revolutionizes the monolithic model of conventional network devices by managing the flow tables on network switches, routers and access points independently of the device’s software. It removes much of the network decision making, often called the “control plane” from network devices into an external controller that can be implemented using standard server technology.
At Interop Las Vegas, May 8-12, 2011, IBM System Networking and NEC will be showing, for the first time publically, a proof-of-concept demo of an OpenFlow-enabled IBM BNT RackSwitch G8264 working in concert with an NEC OpenFlow controller. IBM will also participate in the InteropNet OpenFlow Lab, which will educate attendees on the principles, functions and features of OpenFlow. The lab will demonstrate OpenFlow in different scenarios, including loop free networking, dynamic load balancing across multiple links and quality of service for VoIP.
We are proud to be one of the inaugural members of the Open Networking Foundation, which again demonstrates IBM’s long-standing commitment to making a difference for customers with open industry standards, which are essential for the Smarter Computing that powers a Smarter Planet.
Interop Las Vegas is Showcase for IBM’s Collaborative Innovations
Interop is a singular event that galvanizes our industry. This year at Interop Las Vegas May 8-12, IBM System Networking will showcase the latest developments in collaborative innovations for Smarter Computing. For example, the emerging OpenFlow specification promises a greater level of intelligence in Ethernet networks through a new approach called Software-Defined Networking (SDN).
OpenFlow is being promoted by the Open Networking Foundation formed by six companies that own and operate some of the largest networks in the world — Deutsche Telekom, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Verizon and Yahoo! — as well as 17 member companies, including IBM and other major equipment vendors, networking and virtualization software suppliers and chip technology providers. We are proud to be one of the inaugural members of the Open Networking Foundation, which again demonstrates IBM’s long-standing commitment to open industry standards, which are essential for the Smarter Computing that powers a Smarter Planet.
At Interop Las Vegas, IBM System Networking and NEC will show in NEC’s booth #904, for the first time publically, a proof-of-concept demo of an OpenFlow-enabled high-performance IBM BNT RackSwitch G8264 working in concert with an NEC OpenFlow controller. IBM will also participate in the InteropNet OpenFlow Lab, which will educate attendees on the principles, functions and features of OpenFlow.
IBM is also actively involving in open standards to better equip enterprise data centers for server virtualization. Edge Virtual Bridging (EVB) technologies, including the new Virtual Ethernet Port Aggregator (VEPA) technologies now being defined by the IEEE 802.1Qbg working group can make it easier for businesses to achieve server-network edge virtualization in the data center.
IBM’s Renato Recio is a driving force behind the 802.1Qbg standards, yet another of Renato’s numerous contributions to important industry standards that have dramatically simplified the way virtualized data centers operate. Renato was recently named an IBM Fellow, IBM’s most prestigious technical honor, recognizing his outstanding career of innovation that has so far resulted in 97 patents issued and 80 patents pending. I am proud to have Renato as a key member of our IBM System Networking team.
IBM System Networking’s switch-resident VMready with Virtual Vision is a unique EVB-ready solution that enables the network to be Virtual Machine aware, so that a data center network environment be configured, managed and secured for thousands of mobile Virtual Machines.
If you are attending Interop Las Vegas, May 8-12, please visit IBM in booth #621 to find out more about our leadership in collaborative innovations, such as OpenFlow and Edge Virtual Bridging.
IBM System Sets New Low-Latency Record for Real-time Market Data over 10GbE
In the world of High-Frequency Trading (HFT), opportunities exist only fleetingly and therefore trading solutions must run at the lowest latency to be competitive . Low-latency 10 Gigabit Ethernet has become the interconnect
of choice for HFT solutions. IBM and Mellanox have demonstrated a solution that
performs at high throughput rates and low latency to facilitate High-Frequency
I am happy to report that an IBM system has set a new record in low-latency messaging performance for Ethernet networks based on
the latest STAC-M2 benchmark test conducted by
Mellanox. The record was achieved using IBM x3550 servers running IBM’s WebSphere MQ Low Latency Messaging (LLM) technology using
Mellanox ConnectX-2 EN 10GbE NICs with RDMA over Converged Ethernet (RoCE) and the IBM BNT RackSwitch
G8264 10GbE switch.
The IBM and Mellanox solution outperformed the most recent record holder (based on a comparable configuration), achieving a 30% improvement
over results that were announced just two months ago. The benchmark results highlight an enhancement in latency reduction and scaling of messaging
performance, validating IBM and Mellanox’s performance leadership for high-performance connectivity to data centers in the financial services
STAC-M2 is a vendor neutral benchmark set by the Securities Technology Analysis Center (STAC) Benchmark Council, a consortium of
financial and trading industry participants that sets testing standards and supports performance improvements for technology used in capital markets.
This STAC benchmark demonstrates that IBM and Mellanox are addressing the performance requirements of the financial services industry by providing financial services enterprises with innovative server,
storage, software and networking solutions that meet their customers’ needs for fast transactions and value-added services.
STAC Benchmark Council members with a premium subscription can request the full STAC® Report. The report highlights are available to the
public. For more information, read IBM’s white paper about this impressive
low-latency solution for High Frequency Trading. Find more information about IBM System Networking’s low latency solutions here.
IBM’s Global CIO Study: Cloud is Ready for Prime Time
IBM has conducted its most recent Global Chief Information Officer Study– “The Essential CIO” – based on a poll of 3,000 global CIOs. Published in IBM’s centennial year, it is a definitive study of trends among CIOs from organizations of all types and sizes in 71 countries across 18 industries.
According to the study, one of the more interesting results over IBM’s Global Chief Information Officer 2009 study is that cloud computing has come of age with interest in the cloud increasing more than any other CIO priority. This 2010 study shows that 60 percent of organizations are ready to embrace the cloud over the next five years, an increase that is nearly double that of the 2009 study.
One of the reasons for embracing the cloud is that CIOs reported that their companies are seeking simple, meaningful and direct access to their enterprises’ Big Data –terabytes and petabytes of information, and the applications that cloud computing can deliver in a cost-efficient manner. While early cloud deployments typically addressed inter-departmental requirements, cloud computing has now become more widely used to connect organizations and their partners and customers.
The study research suggests that CEOs and CIOs are increasingly on the same page as CEOs better understand the importance of technology. Thus, They CEOs are increasingly relying on CIOs to turn today’s complex and changeable Big Data into usable information, information into intelligence and intelligence into better decisions. This is bringing CEOs and CIOs increasingly on the same page, as CEOs better understand the critical importance of technology for business success and competitiveness.
As one respondent noted: “Importantly, the role of CIO is not being looked on as ‘Chief IT Mechanic.’ It is recognized as a means to extract value from technology and gain insight from complex systems,” said Mark Hale, Director of IS for Food Retail, The Co-operative Group.
At IBM System Networking, we are focused on optimized systems that remove the barriers to cloud computing so that CIOs can turn vast amounts of data into business insights and enhance services and innovation. By speeding the transfer of data to and from servers to servers, servers to storage, and analytic engines, such as Netezza’s TwinFin Data Warehouse Appliance, IBM’s high-performance, virtual, scalable, standards-based and easy-to-manage system networking solutions are already fueling this cloud revolution in the world’s largest public and private enterprises.
The IBM Global CIO Study makes it clear that we have indeed entered a new era of IT where enterprises are vitally interested in IT infrastructure that is designed for Big Data, tuned to the task, and managed in the cloud – we call this new era Smarter Computing. In upcoming blogs, I’ll take a deeper look at the role that cloud computing, optimized systems and Big Data play in enabling Smarter Computing. Continue the conversation with us at ibm.com/theessentialcio.