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.