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Next generation LAN networking - why is it time to upgrade the switch fabric?

Like all business professionals, ICOs are increasingly looking for ways to reduce costs by simplifying and streamlining their processes. One of the biggest obstacles for many businesses to doing just that is the fragmented nature of the majority of data centre environments and the disjointed operational practices that arise from an archaic IT infrastructure.

For businesses operating across traditional switch fabrics, future-proofing the network in order to enable the adoption of technologies such as convergence and virtualisation offers many benefits such as the opportunity to reduce capital spending, lower overall IT costs and provide greater technical agility. The implementation of a fabric-based network infrastructure promises a scalable and simplified architecture that unifies hardware and virtualisation, addresses security and other L4-7 network services all at the same time.

In today's economic climate, however, many ICOs are still concerned about the CapEx and OpEx costs of making the transition to next generation LAN networking, deterred by the prospect of running separate Data Centre LAN and SAN networks due to perceived cost and time inefficiencies.

The good news is that whether utilising traditional Fibre Channel only SANs or converged Fibre Channel over Ethernet based SANs, network managers can have a single management pane for both LAN and SAN technologies by segmenting one physical switch into multiple virtual switches, reducing the number of devices that a business has to manage and maintain, simplifying cabling requirements and requiring less energy to run, leading to lower power and cooling costs.

Not only does this help to reduce OxpEx costs but this unified next generation network fabric can provide a direct view of virtual NICs and enable secure movement of virtual machines within and across data centres, facilitating workload mobility for load sharing between data centres as well as disaster recovery.

A wire-once, connect-to-anything, anywhere, network architecture fabric enables businesses to solve the challenges presented by changing traffic patterns including larger, more complex workloads brought about by virtualisation and the proliferation of virtual machines, along with the challenges of cloud computing, such as server capacity. As the number of virtual machines increases it is important to ensure that network infrastructure is resilient, scalable and can support the need for more bandwidth.

Ethernet 10Gb will boost commercial productivity as it provides higher bandwidth as well as re-grades to bandwidth that can mirror an organisations changing requirements. Network fabrics today can build a converged SAN on a 10GE LAN with minimal additional investment allowing you to mount any storage target from any server, regardless of where it is connected. This allows you to reduce the excessive costs of provisioning multiple Fibre Channel ports for all servers while enabling your virtual machines, which can be located on any physical server, to have full access to storage-based resources.

In simple terms, moving the data centre to a single converged network fabric allows you to simplify your network architecture, management, and maintenance which ultimately contributes to the reduction of total cost of data centre ownership, and improves bottom line.

Simon Richardson brings more than 15 years of IT industry experience to ITogether. Simon manages the overall technical strategy and service delivery of the business as well as its day to day activities and product and service portfolio. An expert in enterprise network security, Simon is focused on driving the growth of ITogether's corporate client base through its world class vendor portfolio and managed services.