The Transformation of the Data Center Network
Recently, I joined the other networking industry executives in Network World’s Data Center Switching Challenge Series. Host Robin Layland points out that the data center network is undergoing a major transformation as server virtualization, intense storage growth and the increase in east-west traffic – application-to-application and application-to-storage traffic – are placing new demands on the data center networking infrastructure. Layland asserts that to accommodate these changes, data centers must become more cloud-like. That requires running a new Ethernet fabric – a high-throughput, self-configuring, low-latency and self-healing data center network that automatically forwards traffic over the shortest available path. I couldn’t agree more.
Certainly, new technology innovations including the transformation of the data center network, signal that we are entering a new era of computing that IBM calls Smarter Computing. At IBM System Networking, we believe that Smarter Computing can be achieved by connecting servers and storage with a high-speed and intelligent network fabric that is faster, greener, open and easy to manage. In Round One of the Challenge, I describe how evolving to these next-generation data centers, requires organizations to scale their infrastructures while minimizing complexity, achieving virtualization and consolidation with the quality of service required for production application workloads and successfully merging data and storage into a single network.
As organizations drive to transform and virtualize their IT infrastructures to reduce costs and manage risk, networking is pivotal to success. Optimizing network performance, availability, adaptability, security, and cost is essential to achieving the maximum benefit from the data center infrastructure. This in turn addresses CIOs’ key issues, including scalability, density, simplicity, utilization, security, analytics and total cost of ownership.
The value proposition for IBM System Networking is to provide the essential data and storage networking solutions under the IBM brand to connect servers to servers, servers to storage and storage to storage. Clients seeking more efficient data centers with the greatest business value and lowest total cost of ownership for their data center networks can implement an open, standards-based approach to simplify management, flatten and converge the network and optimize and automation virtualization.
In Round Two of the Challenge, Robin and I take a deeper look into the requirements for the data center network fabric in a brief podcast. The best way to look at the attributes of a data center fabric is what we call the four “L’s”. It’s got to be lossless. It’s got to be low latency. It’s got to consume low power and it’s got to have a very low cost of acquisition and operation. These are the essential attributes of a data center interconnect fabric. The problems on a large scale that this sort of a data center fabric is trying to solve are, first and foremost, to help clients scale their infrastructure. Second, to allow clients to increase the density of clients and storage per square foot of raised floor. Third, to make it incredibly simple to provision and manage data center infrastructure. Fourth, to enhance the security of the IT infrastructure. Fifth, to aid in the process of better analytics of a corporation’s information and data repositories. Sixth, to maximize the utilization of the IT infrastructure through technologies like virtualization, and finally, to lower the total cost of ownership of IT infrastructure.
Network World’s Data Center Switching Challenge is a great place to start when you are evaluating your data center networking needs and how leading vendors are taking new and innovative approaches to address next-generation requirements.
Cloud Computing for Rethinking IT and Reinventing Business
In IBM’s Global Chief Information Officer Study– “The Essential CIO” – based on a poll of 3,000 global CIOs– shows that cloud computing has come of age with interest in the cloud increasing more than any other CIO priority. As I mentioned earlier, 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.
The cloud represents a profound evolution of IT with revolutionary implications for business and society, creating new possibilities and enabling more efficient, flexible and collaborative computing models. The cloud enables “IT without boundaries”—systems and processes that break down traditional silos and simplify access to information in order to deliver better business outcomes. Cloud computing offers organizations dramatic increases in agility and efficiency— innovation to ensure speedy, cost-effective delivery of products and services. To realize the benefits of cloud computing while overcoming the inherent challenges, organizations must take a holistic approach that spans business and innovation, users and applications, systems and networks.
IBM enables Smarter Computing managed in the cloud with a wide range of solutions. For example, IBM Tivoli Service Automation Manager enables users to request, deploy, monitor and manage cloud computing services. IBM SmartCloud Managed Backup
services provide end-to-end, cloud-based managed services to help protect business data, regardless of where it's stored. IBM SmartCloud Enterprise
is an agile cloud infrastructure as a service (IaaS) designed to provide rapid access to security-rich, enterprise-class virtual server environments, well suited for development and test activities and other dynamic workloads. IBM Smart Business Storage Cloud
offers a storage-virtualization solution designed to support storage optimization efforts. The IBM BladeCenter Foundation for Cloud
provides a pre-integrated and preloaded system with software, server, storage, networking and start-up services to help take the guesswork out of establishing a virtualized data center environment.
System networking is essential to the cloud, and our Cloud Ready Network Architecture
addresses the network-related requirements for private and public cloud computing. As enterprises and cloud providers seek to harness the considerable advantages of cloud computing, their networks must be equipped with five essential elements -- high-bandwidth/low-latency switching, convergence to Ethernet, massive virtualization for agile workloads, scalable fabric management and advanced energy efficiency. Cloud Ready Network Architecture is extending the performance and capabilities of data center networks from blade server to switch to SAN that will enable the scale-out performance and economies promised by cloud computing. Our Cloud Ready products
include the industry's first FCoE-ready 10 Gigabit Ethernet blade server switch, a high-performance 10/40GbE top-of-rack switching solution and a massive virtualization solution that supports more than 1,000 virtual ports for the cloud-ready data center.
Cloud computing is a new model of consuming and delivering IT and business services. It enables users to get what they need, as they need it—from advanced analytics and business applications to IT infrastructure and platform services, including virtual servers, storage and networks. The cloud is only as agile and extensible as the underlying network, and IBM System Networking is committed to delivering networking solutions that enable clients to harness the cloud’s transformative potential to rethink IT and reinvent business.
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.
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.
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 System Networking Sets the Pace with Standards-Based Network Virtualization Automation
With the vast majority of IT organizations now implementing virtualization, clients are seeking to dramatically reduce cost and complexity in highly virtualized data centers. In today’s data center environments, server virtualization is managed separately from physical servers, requiring the collaboration of server, network, storage, and security administrators. Data center managers are seeking a consistent networking environment across virtual and physical environments, so that virtual and physical servers can use the same configurations, policies and management tools. Network policies should migrate automatically along with mobile virtual machines to ensure that security, performance and access remains intact as virtual machines move from server to server.
To extend IBM’s industry-leading innovation in network virtualization management and automation, I am happy to report that IBM System Networking has delivered the new IBM Distributed Virtual Switch (DVS) 5000V to solve these emerging client needsUsing this server-based technology, clients can implement standards-based network virtualization in today’s I/O-intensive virtual switch environments. Using IBM’s innovative VMready virtualization-aware networking on the IBM RackSwitch and BladeCenter switches along with the IBM DVS 5000V as the virtual switch in VMware environments, clients can radically simplify and automate virtualization management. VMready works with all the major hypervisors and supports the IEEE 802.1Qbg standard for automating Virtual Machine mobility. VMware clients can further optimize and automate virtualization management with more advanced capabilities using the new IBM Distributed Virtual Switch 5000V.
Key aspects of our new IBM Distributed Virtual Switch 5000V include:
• Large-scale server virtualization by providing enterprise-level switch functionality in the hypervisor
• Advanced networking features not available through base vSwitch
• Mobility of VM security and network properties
• 802.1Qbg standards-based unified management of VM network policies across the virtual and physical network
• Network administrators can manage and provision network settings at the virtual machine level
• Flexible and scalable to a large number of ports
The IBM System Networking Distributed Virtual Switch 5000V is an advanced, feature-rich distributed virtual switch for VMware environments with policy-based virtual machine (VM) connectivity. It enables network administrators familiar with IBM System Networking switches to manage the IBM DVS 5000V just like IBM physical switches using advanced networking, troubleshooting and management features so the virtual switch is no longer hidden and difficult to manage.
Support for Edge Virtual Bridging (EVB) based on the IEEE 802.1Qbg standard enables scalable, flexible management of networking configuration and policy requirements per VM and eliminates many of the networking challenges introduced with server virtualization. The IBM DVS 5000V works with VMware vSphere 5.0 and beyond and interoperates with any 802.1Qbg-compliant physical switch to enable switching of local VM traffic in the hypervisor or in the upstream physical switch.
Do you see your clients’ initiatives to implement massively virtualized infrastructures requiring a new level of network virtualization automation and management? Do you see standards-based networking as a key enabler for their next-generation network topologies?
IBM System Networking’s Vijoy Pandey Named IBM Distinguished Engineer
I am extremely please to report that my esteemed colleague and long-time collaborator Vijoy Pandey, IBM System Networking’s CTO for our Network OS and Switching, has been named an IBM Distinguished Engineer. I have had the pleasure of working with Vijoy across the past decade at Alteon Networks, Nortel, BLADE Network Technologies, where he joined me as one of our original employees, and now IBM, where he continues to lead the development of the IBM Networking Operating System and champion innovations such as our VMready virtualization automation software.
Vijoy’s recognition as an IBM Distinguished Engineer recognizes his outstanding technical contributions and leadership and puts him in the illustrious community of 500 other IBM Distinguished Engineers. Vijoy serves as a key link between IBM System Networking and the rest of our Systems and Technology Group, and has become a key "go-to" networking expert. Vijoy and his team help IBM drive innovation at the systems networking level, enabling clients to speed the delivery of key information from system to system -- for workloads such as analytics and cloud computing -- while also reducing data center costs. Vijoy is clearly a technical leader of the networking field, is well known across the industry and has proven to be a critical resource to IBM.
Vijoy holds a Ph.D. in Wireless and Cellular Networks from the University of California, Davis and a technical degree in Computer Science and Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur. In addition to his exceptional technical acumen, Vijoy is an accomplished photographer. You can see some of the wonderful images captured by Vijoy and his wife Rachna at varp.net. Please join me in congratulating Vijoy for his well-deserved recognition as an IBM Distinguished Engineer.
A Fundamental Change in the Economics of IT – Innovation, Agility, Flexibility Massive Scalability through IBM’s New Expert Integrated PureSystems
The introduction by IBM of a new category of expert integrated systems sets the stage for a new, simpler era of computing and a fundamental change in the economics of IT. As 10,000 online viewers heard key IBM executives extol our vision of expert integrated systems and announce the introduction of the new PureSystems family – it is indeed a watershed day for IBM and our customers, as well as our Systems and Technology Group – and, for IBM System Networking.
We are delighted that IBM’s new PureSystems family, which results from $2 billion in R&D and acquisitions over the past four years, including IBM’s acquisition of BLADE Network Technologies and our talented team of BLADErs in October 2010, integrates networking components from IBM System Networking. Without these investments, the integration of IBM systems using IBM ”house brand” networking components would simply not have been possible less than just two years ago!
IBM’s new PureSystems are factory-built, tuned-to-the task, workload-optimized solutions that integrate server, storage and networking. IBM’s watershed approach to expert integrated systems took four years to define, develop and deliver, resulting in a single integrated, purpose-built system that doubles the computing power previously achievable per square foot of data space.
As organizations worldwide are challenged to deliver and harness innovation and business agility, and achieve massive scalability through integration, interoperability and standardization, IBM’s vision of expert integrated systems, and our new PureSystems family reflect this new economic reality. For example, by cutting months from costly deployments and time-consuming and manually intensive provisioning practices– new compute, storage and network capacity can be deployed up to 30 to 40 times faster.
Integrated systems require less manual intervention, consume much less precious space and power, and operate and scale far more efficiently. The results are ready-to-go systems that enable IT organizations to focus on, achieve and accelerate the innovation that their businesses and end users are looking for them to deliver.
This dense packing of compute power in PureSystems is exactly why the network will be so important to the future of this system. Before this, large amounts of servers and storage would have to be spread out across the data center; network latency and physical distance would ultimately limit performance. Now that multi-core processors, advanced storage technology, and other features have made it possible to fit this much processing power into a few racks, we can take full advantage of Ethernet running up to 40 Gigabit and Fibre Channel running up to 16 Gigabits per second
to realize very high bandwidth and low latency over short distances.
I am particularly pleased that IBM’s vision of expert integrated systems is aimed at realizing a fundamental change in the economics of IT. This vision of integration, scalability and standardization at the rack, row, data center and beyond echoes and reinforces customers’ needs for open, integrated systems that improve business efficiency, innovation and competitiveness I am truly excited as we set the stage for a new category of expert integrated systems and introduce a new era of value in the economics of IT.
Do you think that expert integrated systems can meet your organization’s requirements for innovation, flexibility, agility, and scale? How would viewing all of IT through a single pane of glass enhance IT ability to realize business goals?
IBM System Networking Wins Golden Bridge Award for Business Innovation
I am delighted to report that IBM received the 4th Annual Golden Bridge Award for Business Innovation. The award was given for System Networking’s IBM RackSwitch G8264 with OpenFlow. IBM is leading the way in driving one of the foremost innovations in business technology -- Software Defined Networking (SDN). IBM is one of the first vendors to implement a new data center networking protocol known as OpenFlow for the enterprise. Software Defined Networking using OpenFlow has been standardized through the Open Networking Foundation (ONF) with the collaboration of global network and cloud operators, universities and research labs, and led by IBM and other industry leaders.
SDN enables the separation of network intelligence from the underlying network hardware -- using interoperable software to make the system network more agile, optimized and responsive. The IBM RackSwitch G8264 with OpenFlow supports the rise of Big Data, in which applications, workloads and systems are continuously generating vast amounts of information. Today’s networks are based on hardware, and thus can be too static to support today’s torrent of information. Software Defined Networking promises innovations to turn today’s networks into programmable infrastructure with the flexibility of today’s computers.
With the new IBM Programmable Network Controller
and OpenFlow-enabled RackSwitch G8264, IBM is one of a very few vendors to offer a complete SDN solution. IBM’s SDN solution is enabling greater control over data center infrastructures. This enables data center and network operators to employ a software-defined network fabric with workload-prioritized performance, optimized quality of service and pattern-based system integration.
Congratulations are in order to everyone on the IBM System Networking team who work so hard to deliver innovation every day for the world’s most demanding clients.
For more information about the IBM RackSwitch G8264, OpenFlow, Software Defined Networking and the coming new breed of Virtual Application Networks (VANs), please see:
IBM Introduces High-Performance Storage Area Networking for Cloud and Virtualized Data Centers
IBM System Networking offers a wide portfolio of smarter networking solutions for next-generation data center solutions, including Ethernet and Fibre Channel. Today, we’re pleased to announce the availability of new, high-performance 16Gbps Fibre Channel storage area networking (SAN) solutions for cloud and virtualized data centers.
This new high-performance Fibre Channel fabric platform implements smarter private cloud computing for today’s most popular virtualized storage environments. With these new 16 Gbps SAN solutions from IBM, clients can unleash the full potential of private cloud storage with improved scalability, performance and reliability, reduced network complexity and costs and centralized management.
Our next-generation IBM System Networking products are designed to help enterprise clients migrate smoothly to private cloud architectures through faster data transfers, fewer links needed to accomplish the same task and fewer devices managed overall, with energy consumption seven times more efficient than competitive solutions.
In addition to high performance and ease of management, IBM System Networking’s new smarter SAN networking solutions also address one of the biggest needs in today’s data centers – the push to provide standards-based solutions that are fast, truly interoperable and efficient. As demand for highly virtualized infrastructures increases, and public, private and hybrid clouds become increasingly popular, the new IBM solutions will consolidate and lower expenses around servers and storage deployments while accelerating and streamlining SAN backbones and switching platforms to accelerate access to the cloud.
IBM’s new 16 Gbps Fibre Channel SAN solutions are orchestrated with leading IBM products, including IBM Tivoli Storage Productivity Center and IBM Systems Director. The portfolio includes:
- Our new IBM® System Storage® SAN768B-2 and SAN384B-2 fabric backbones are among the industry's newest Fibre Channel switching infrastructure, providing reliable, scalable, high-performance foundations for private cloud storage and highly virtualized environments. These new backbones enable simpler, flatter, low-latency chassis connectivity to reduce network complexity, management and costs.
- The IBM® System Storage® SAN48B-5 SAN switch is designed to meet the demands of hyper-scale, private cloud storage environments by delivering 16 Gbps Fibre Channel technology and capabilities that support highly virtualized environments. Our new switch delivers 16 Gbps performance with up to 48 ports in an energy-efficient, 1U form factor, providing great flexibility for diverse deployment and cooling strategies.
- IBM® Network Advisor V11 is a software management platform that unifies network management for storage area networks (SAN) and converged networks. It is designed to provide a consistent user interface across Fibre Channel and FCoE over Data Center Bridging (DCB), along with custom views and controls based on the users' areas of specialization.
Our clients continue to have significant needs for Fibre Channel SANs, and according to Dell'Oro Group, SAN switch market revenues are expected to reach $2.5B in 2011, increasing to $4.7B by 2015.
These new products will be available in August, 2011. For more information, visit www.ibm.com/networking
Harnessing the Full Potential of Virtualization
With VMworld 2011 taking place this week in Las Vegas (August 29 to September 1), the industry’s attention is riveted on virtualization. IBM provides deep virtualization expertise and an integrated portfolio of solutions to enable and support business and IT virtualization objectives. IBM approaches transformation from a holistic perspective with smarter systems, software, and services, enabling virtualization not only at the platform level, but also across operating systems and middleware.
Virtualization brings both benefits and drawbacks to the data center: it can maximize underutilized resources and minimize infrastructure spending—but add complexity and administrative overhead for the network administrator.
Today, among the biggest problems clients are facing with their virtual server and storage infrastructures is that when VMs move, the network that connects these server and storage devices is not VM aware, relying instead on conventional physical device awareness. Thus, with a network that is not VM-aware, when VMs move, network addresses, security policies and class of service policies need to be re-configured manually. Enabling the network with awareness of virtualization is what is needed.
This inability of conventional data center networks to understand the language of virtualization and see Virtual Machines (VMs) as they move from server to server and even from data center to data center poses a major impediment to the use of virtualization, particularly for production application workloads, where performance, availability, and security are bottom-line priorities. Those who manage physical and virtual infrastructures know that the network must keep pace with virtualization, and they are increasingly vocal about their desire for scalable, secure and open solutions for building a virtualization-aware network.
To fulfill the promise of smarter computing, Virtual Machines (VMs) need to be supported by an intelligent network. IBM System Networking’s switch-resident VMready® with Virtual Vision is a unique solution that enables the network to be Virtual Machine aware, so that the network can be configured, managed and secured for 1000s of virtual ports (v-ports).
With VMready, as VMs migrate across physical hosts, so do their network attributes automatically, retaining the same ACLs, QoS and VLAN attributes. VMready will support the emerging Edge Virtual Bridging (EVB) technologies now being defined by the IEEE 802.1Qbg working group to make it easier for businesses to achieve server-network virtualization in the data center.
Our clients have been crystal clear in expressing their desire for networks that can scale, secure and migrate VMs even across long distances between data centers. And, they want to achieve this automated network change management without locking into proprietary stacks or having to rip and replace their existing virtual infrastructures. With VMready and Virtual Vision, IBM is enabling data center operators to maximize their investment in server virtualization.
If you’re attending VMworld 2011, please make sure to learn more about VMready by visiting IBM in Booth #321.
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.
CIOs Look to Big Data to Drive Innovation and Growth
In IBM’s Global Chief Information Officer Study– “The Essential CIO” – based on a poll of 3,000 global CIOs, 83 percent of CIOs surveyed identified analytics, the ability to extract actionable insights from “Big Data,” as their top-priority investment area.
The IBM study looked at what constitutes the fundamental tasks of the CIO and what traits define the outperforming CIOs as they infuse technology into products, services and processes to transform their business, drive profitability and expand into new areas. CIOs are facing an increasingly complex business environment defined by sweeping changes and the need for gaining greater intelligence, insight and visibility. These CIOs increasingly view tackling “Big Data” as a key imperative to both gaining insight and to expanding relationships with customers and partners.
CIOs are looking to invest in technologies such as analytics and data mining that not only help them better utilize structured data, but also unstructured data in the form of videos, blogs and tweets that can be obtained through the social web.
Top trends from the CIO Study:
- CIOs are focused on gaining deeper insight and intelligence (77 percent), people skills (68 percent) and client intimacy (67 percent) over the next five years.
- 72 percent of CIOs are focused on integrating business and technology to drive innovation.
- CIOs are harnessing the following tools and methods to turn data into actionable information: data warehousing (64 percent), visual dashboards (64 percent), master data management (63 percent), client analytics (63 percent).
Big Data is often defined as multi-terabyte data sets, but also implies big complexity, many diverse data sources, types and indexing schemes, and big processing to achieve useful analytic results. Big Data can become cumbersome without specialized systems for capture, I/O and storage, search, sharing, analytics and visualizing. Companies often struggle with drawing intelligence from multiple sources of disparate information. Managers can spend the lion’s share of their time just gathering data and less time acting upon it. With an optimized approach to Big Data, managers can spend more of their time focusing on the data that can make a difference to the business, avoiding excessive costs and duplicating efficient practices throughout the business.
Each of us are affected by the explosion of Big Data – whether it’s through the massive amounts of information generated and aggregated through social networks, the personalization that businesses can achieve from in-depth knowledge of our preferences and buying behaviors or the impact that compelling visualizations can have on business decisions. And as Big Data technologies improve how data is structured, stored, organized and retrieved, and, how complex analytics can help discover entirely new things, Big Data will have a big impact on the way we live, work and progress.
To those of us at IBM System Networking
, amidst all the complexity associated with Big Data, one thing stands clear. The rise of Big Data drives faster and more efficient network connectivity. For example, IBM BNT RackSwitches are vital components of Netezza’s TwinFin Data Warehouse Appliance
. Spend enough time with Big Data, and you’ll need the fastest and most highly optimized networking possible. And you’ll want that speed and intelligence at the edge of the network, close to users, applications and innovation. At IBM System Networking, that’s what we’re all about.
Achieving More with Systems and Networks Tuned to the Task
IBM is the leader in workload-optimized systems that are tuned to the task. Analyst James Clabby of Clabby Analytics defines the workload-optimized system “as one that matches architecture to the needs it is purchased for. Systems performance is no longer defined by the fastest processor or other leading benchmarks, but rather by the ability to deploy new services faster, with higher quality and within financial objectives.”
IBM's leadership in workload-optimized systems spans more than four decades, leveraging significant investments in microelectronics R&D, software integration, and system networking and harnesses IBM’s vast experience of deploying systems to solve industry problems. For example, IBM is working with partners to deliver a comprehensive system to bring the power of analytics and get clients up and running quickly and affordably without risk. IBM provides the industry insight through services to test and tune the system to the client's exact specifications, works with partners to ensure their applications are optimized and offers financing to ensure the systems match clients' budgets.
Workload-optimized systems address many diverse workloads, such as industry-specific applications like Wall Street’s High Frequency Trading, cross-industry applications like business analytics, and configuration-specific IT environments like cloud computing and virtualization. For example, the IBM Smart Analytics System
is a fine-tuned hardware and software platform specifically designed for customized analytics applications in industries such as healthcare, financial markets, energy and retail. The widespread use of virtualization has led to the development of virtualization-optimized systems such as IBM BladeCenter HX5
with MAX5. The BladeCenter HX5 is a scalable blade server designed to provide new levels of utilization, performance, and reliability for virtualized workloads such as database, business intelligence, modeling and simulation, and other enterprise applications.
Workload-optimized systems extend into the networking arena, which is no longer solely defined by general-purpose infrastructures. IBM’s VMready
switch-resident, virtualization-aware networking software is a prime example of IBM System Networking technology developed specifically for today’s highly virtualized workloads, and can be deployed to optimize virtualization-oriented systems such as BladeCenter even further. With VMready, as VMs migrate across physical hosts, so do their network attributes automatically. VMready allows you to manage virtual machines as they are added, moved and removed while retaining the same ACLs, QoS and VLAN attributes anywhere across the data center network. VMready allows for a "define once, use many" configuration that optimizes the data center network infrastructure for broad deployment of virtualization.
James Clabby encourages a look beyond systems specifications and characteristics when choosing where to deploy applications to consider what a particular system is actually intended to do for an enterprise. I couldn’t agree more. I encourage clients to evaluate network infrastructure in terms of its ability to deliver speed and intelligence tuned to the task.
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.