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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.

CIOs expect tomorrow’s corporate networks to fulfill a wide range of sometimes-conflicting demands.

They want unprecedented scalability, but reduced management complexity. They want seamless mobility, but tight orchestration and they want emerging networking technologies to complement the investments they are making today, instead of forcing them to refresh the entire environment in a wholesale ‘rip-and-replace’ exercise. For these reasons, unified fabrics are showing up on the CIO’s agenda.

What are your predictions of developments in the following areas—mobility, virtualisation and Cloud computing?

Five years ago, it was predicted that mobility would “come of age” and I think we can all agree on that now. Wi-Fi account billing is supported in most public hot spots. Roaming is transparent, robust and widely available. Mobile performance is pervasive and quality solid. This trend will continue and further develop into 2011 with the mobile workforce leveraging a fuller capacity of the Cloud.

As for virtualisation, one of my favourite predictions is the theoretical business model “Follow Me”, which would provide transparent backup and virtualisation of PCs and smartphones anywhere on the network.

While Apple’s “Mobile Me” didn’t steal my fictional name, it seems they might have considered it. This is a very practical example of the trend around virtualisation of storage and applications which is happening from the consumer level to the corporate level.
Business models like Mobile Me and the migration of voice and video traffic to IP, expansion of network-based businesses, massive traffic growth and new service requirements have put incredible strains on data centres and networks. Consolidation and virtualisation initiatives have improved server utilisation and agility, but there is still a long way to go.

Virtualisation absolutely improves efficiency, scalability, but often increases management complexity in the short term. Networking vendors have capitalised on the virtualisation hype—some still advocating rip and replace, proprietary approaches; while others such as Brocade are taking an open-standard and evolutionary approach that protects the hundreds of billions already invested in server, storage and networking.

Similarly, Cloud computing is a huge trend that is driving infrastructure changes today.

The Cloud computing model will be the result of building highly virtualised infrastructures where information and services are available anywhere.


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