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.
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.
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.
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 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
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.
IBM’s “Blue Pods”
With standardized components available for virtually every element of IT infrastructure from server to storage and network to rack, it’s perhaps no surprise that the standardized data center or “Pod” is becoming increasingly popular. For example, IBM’s Portable Modular Data Center is a data center in 20- or 40-foot shipping container that can be located anywhere that power and chilled water can be delivered. Other “Blue Pods” include the Enterprise Modular Data Center, a standardized raised-floor data center that can be built out in modules of 5,000 to 20,000 square feet, and the Modular High-Density Zone, which can convert an existing raised-floor space into an area that can deliver more computing capacity and power density.
As organizations struggle to handle growth in existing data centers, most organizations need to install and operate high-density computing to keep up with IT demands. However, the majority of today’s data centers are not designed to support high-density computing. So, these modular data centers offer a quick-to-deploy high-density solution with exceptional energy efficiency. And these modular approaches are ideal for organizations that want affordable capacity on demand. A Portable Modular Data Center can be designed, built and drop-shipped in as little as a few weeks to any location in the world, and does not require onerous capital outlays.
An IBM Portable Modular Data Center can cost up to 30 percent less to design and build compared to custom raised floor solutions, and can have up to a 50 percent smaller footprint. These Blue Pods are open, using industry-standard 19-inch racks and can house 1,428 blade servers or 1,178 IBM iDataPlex servers per container. This high-density compute power requires equivalent networking capacity. And this is where IBM System Networking is an ideal complement. IBM System Networking RackSwitch products consume power equivalent to standard light bulbs and are designed with server-friendly airflow that matches the hot-aisle/cold-aisle designs of the modular data center. IBM BladeCenter switches consume even less power and are tightly integrated with the BladeCenter architecture. Our VMready switch-resident software provides the networking capability to equip the Pod for the challenges of virtualization.
As CIOs remake IT infrastructures into more agile and automated environments that can respond to complexity with operational flexibility, Blue Pods support change while helping to mitigate associated risks. They help to address the continuing pressure to do more, faster and better – with less. In many cases, Pods enable organizations to accelerate their preparations for increasing complexity without requiring a significant expansion of existing IT operations. And Pods address the imperative to do more, faster and better—with less. Pods enable the data center to perform as the engine of business growth. And that’s what smarter computing is all about.
Take an online tour of an IBM Portable Modular Data Center.
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.
Networks Go Flat So Data Can Go Faster
Today’s application requirements place new demands on the data center network fabric to deliver non-stop, ultra-low latency traffic flows. This traffic is increasingly “east-west” in nature to enable server-to-server communications versus the “north-south” traffic that characterizes conventional client/server and Web-based application environments. In fact, today, as much as 80 to 85 per cent of the traffic in cloud and virtualized server infrastructures – moves from server to server.
Deployment of the network fabric to serve these “east-west” requirements ideally begins at the edge of the network, close to servers, applications, users and innovation. So, today’s evolving data center architectures start with building out the fabric at the edge, connecting multiple blade servers, racks or systems, and eventually connecting multiple data centers. This is all about allowing clients to take advantage of fabric technology without expecting them to undertake an expensive and resource intensive forklift upgrade. That’s why starting at the edge makes a lot of sense.
For the intensive machine-to-machine communications required for server virtualization, cloud computing and high performance computing applications such as high-frequency trading, latency should be as close as you can possibly get to zero. There is the basic latency associated with the speed of light and the transmission medium, so as close as you can possibly get to zero defines the ideal. People in the industry have used the term the race to zero latency as a way of describing this insatiable quest for driving latency out of the system.
Clients are deploying IT infrastructure on an unprecedented scale. For example, data centers that were deploying five to six thousand servers on an annualized basis are now are routinely looking at deploying an order of magnitude more server infrastructure. So the scale at which these clients are deploying server infrastructure and storage capacity is huge. And if the network fabric that is connecting these servers and storage devices does not scale along with servers and storage, then you’ve got a problem.
While on one hand, clients are staring down the barrel of deploying an order of magnitude more servers and storage infrastructure than they ever have before, on the other hand they’re also concerned about ineffectiveness as it relates to utilization of their IT infrastructure. A big focus for enterprises is to increase the utilization of their IT infrastructure. The airline industry calls this yield management. The hospitality industry calls this occupancy rates. In the context of the data center, this is all about maximizing the utilization of IT infrastructure.
We in IBM System Networking agree with The Register’s Timothy Prickett-Morgan who in an insightful article “No More Tiers for Flat Networks,” writes, “For companies that need network traffic to move more efficiently at higher bandwidth and with lower latencies, then a leaf-spine network that has a flatter architecture, or perhaps a fat tree network inspired by supercomputers or a Clos network inspired by telecommunications, might be just the ticket.”
The definition of an ideal fabric is one that does not require clients to jump through hoops, change out servers or add unnecessary complexity. A good fabric should be one that can provide connectivity for the client’s existing infrastructure. That’s why IBM is a big proponent of standards, because we fundamentally believe that standards can bring not only the most innovative solutions to marketplace, but also deliver solutions that don’t lock clients into a particular type of technology or a specific vendor.
The data center network is going through a major transformation to support server virtualization and cloud computing, convergence of data storage, server-to-server traffic and new high-performance applications. To address these needs, the data center network fabric, the system network architecture that interconnects server devices and storage devices in a data center environment, has become a critical lynchpin of data center architecture. And the move to flat networks is enabling the fabric to help data go faster. And for today’s requirements, faster is most definitely better.