Virtualization, the Cloud, and the Strain on Networking Equipment
Over the past few years organizations have begun to realize the cost savings, efficiency and return on investment that virtualization technology and cloud computing can provide. Whether this is a result or by-product of the economic downturn is irrelevant; utilizing more server capacity and migrating applications to a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model has and will continue to become a mainstay in the data center.
However, before complete adoption can be made, the underlying network equipment and architecture must be able to provide greater performance, availability and security. They must be able to provide the flexibility to support numerous virtualization environments as well as the shorter deployment times that cloud computing demands.
At the same time as the network equipment and infrastructure evolve to support new computing models, it has to be able to continue supporting applications that aren’t running in the cloud or on virtualized equipment. Data centers need to consider the option of network convergence as they streamline their networking equipment and continue to identify areas of cost savings.
However, network convergence may not be a suitable option for all applications, and trade-offs coexist with the savings available, such as possible network latency, regulatory compliance and possible security concerns. One of our networking partners, Brocade, has an excellent white paper that discusses the evolution of the data center for the adoption of virtualization and cloud computing. You have to register for it, but it’s very thorough, detailed and worth a read.
In addition to asking the network convergence question, you’ll need to make sure that you consider the environmental impact that a network equipment enhancement will have. While traditionally networking equipment has not been thought of as a major contributor to power consumption in a data center, it does need to be robust enough to bridge the gap between facilities and IT, and as our partner HP describes in their paper – Green Networking in the Data Center:
“Now, more than ever, it is essential for the server and networking industry to work hand in hand to solve the complex challenges of the data center and to ensure that they are compatible with the emerging best practices of server and storage utilization. Taking the appropriate steps to minimize power consumption can increase utilization rates of server and storage assets resulting in power and space reductions in the data center and help meet high-level business goals.”
And of course, security is and always should be paramount to any networking equipment evolution. While cloud computing solutions and virtualization offer opportunity to the data center, they also increase possible vulnerability. A smart, network-centric approach to security can create a scalable, secure data center infrastructure.
Our partner, Juniper Networks, in their paper – Security Considerations for Cloud-Ready Data Centers, writes:
“Because the network touches every device in the data center, it is an ideal location from which to manage a holistic suite of security tools. And with advances in technology, it is possible to physically connect security devices to just a few points in the network and logically extend them to multiple network segments. Using a network-centric approach makes it easy to implement a unified security policy in a distributed environment, and to extend data center services to virtually any user in any location.”
As virtualization and cloud computing models become the standard in most data centers, the network equipment and infrastructure need to evolve as well. If you’re interested in a Network Discovery Audit, let us know.