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The network is the data centre

Anushkar Mohinani | April 28, 2011
Architectural issues will abound this year as enterprises continue to outgrow their 2010 IT infrastructure capacities.

Network infrastructure and data centres will be key issues for senior IT executives in 2011, according to data centre networking solutions and services provider Brocade.

Gerald Penaflor, the company’s Senior Director for South Asia Pacific and Korea, gives his perspectives on industry developments in 2010 and what lies ahead through this year.

 What key technology and business trends emerged during 2010?
Penaflor: The need for building future-proof network infrastructures while protecting existing technology investments took precedence in 2010, as enterprises looked to simplify the tasks of storing, managing and administering their data, and reduce both capital and operating expenditures at the same time. Over the past year, enterprises continued to expand the size and scope of their data networks and the number and types of applications that these networks support, with applications getting increasingly bandwidth-, processing- and storage-intensive. And as they move into the Cloud, they are running everywhere leading to new requirements for more highly efficient, reliable and scalable networks.

We saw that the traditional ‘walls’ of the date centre were disappearing with the rapid increase in the number of intelligent devices and highly mobile users extending the edge of the network. In fact, there is not much difference between the heightened requirements in the data centre and those in the rest of the network.

The entire network is indeed the data centre today.

As a result, enterprises were looking for a comprehensive network strategy that would enable the convergence of storage and data IP networks and facilitate the adoption of new technologies to extend data centre capabilities, as they transitioned to a more robust yet flexible network model based on a highly-virtualised, services-on-demand infrastructure.

What has been at the top of your customers’ agendas?
Customers are concerned and naturally inquisitive about the best practices they can possibly apply to their own network architecture as they outgrow the current requirements. Design and practices need to be re-evaluated and updated from time to time to keep up with business needs.

They are also largely keen to find out more about how they could possibly leverage new technologies to incorporate with the existing IT environment and how to do so with minimal disruption and outlay.

Lower latency, enhanced reliability and higher throughput are all high on the IT department’s wish-list, but above all, they say, what they’d really like to see is a single network infrastructure capable of handling all data, clustering and storage traffic.
It sounds like a tall order, but it’s hardly surprising that many CIOs are taking a long, hard look at their current network infrastructures and finding them wanting. Today, their teams are typically managing two or three parallel networks: they have a storage network built for reliability, guaranteed data integrity and non-blocking performance. And they have a data network whose characteristics include best-effort performance and unpredictable bandwidth, along with often-frustrating levels of complexity. Separate switches, host bus adapters (HBAs), network interface cards (NICs) and cables are required for each network.


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