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Study finds data centres ill-equipped to serve virtualisation and cloud demands

The most recent global study from Brocade has found that Data Centre’s are ill equipped to serve demands in the era of Virtualization and Cloud. The study appears to show that almost two thirds of users lack confidence in data centre networks today. Here to tell us more is Brocade’s Simon Pamplin.

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Simon first of all let’s start with what you identified that lead to this study initially?

The global study went out to just under 2000 people who were all IT decision makers. What we were looking to find out was whether their network infrastructure was fit for purpose or their businesses future plans. We were obviously looking to see how they were going to grow their networks over the coming few years. The interesting the information that came back really told us that Brocade’s strategy around fabric based technology and the future direction we have with software defined networks is absolutely on the money. Some of the scary statistics that we came back with were that a third of the businesses are experienced multiple network outages these days due to the fact that their infrastructures are not fit for purpose any more in the way they were originally designed for the way the businesses interact today. That is quite a shocking statistic in my perspective anyway.

Tell us about the sheer pace of change that has occurred within virtualisation and cloud and the issues this rate of change has caused?

If you go back a few years, the traditional three tier model service, the client server type interaction of an external application talking to maybe a data base or something in a data centre is what we refer to as north south traffic. The three-tier architecture that pretty much every network supplier has implemented and designed worked perfectly for that. It was a very good robust way of doing things. Unfortunately the way that data centers’ and businesses have changed means that there is far more inter process communication within the Data Centre. So you think about virtual servers to other virtual servers you talk about virtual farms of servers and talk about load balancing cross multiple applications. All that interaction is happening within the data centre so you now need to allow and enable this high performance, low latency conversation to happen within the data centre and the old model unfortunately introduced too many different hops or levels if you like to move from one point to the other. So as the applications and the usage of the applications have changed the design really has not changed with it and as a result we are starting to see it is creaking a bit at the edges. Brocade identified it with the way we treat fabrics and the way we have got on in our storage business for many many years. You have got to remember Brocade has been in the fabric business since 1995 so we have a very long history and understanding of the benefits of the fabric technology. So when we employed that in the Ethernet world we realized that the whole benefit of the fabric being a very flat high performance layer two type network allowed these communications to happen so much so much sooner. The fabric itself is self-forming, you can plug in a new device and the fabric will have a new life and make it available to the rest of the fabric. It’s deterministic so it knows exactly the best path to go from point A to point B in the fastest way so that if something happens within the fabric like the link gets damaged then it will automatically reroute traffic. So there is no redesign required when the fabric has to flex to the applications needs.

Have data centers’ fallen behind and is cost a factor in any of this?

I wouldn’t necessarily say that they have fallen behind but I would say that business and the way that we use applications and the way that consumers use applications has changed so fast that the traditional ways of building data centers’ has not been able to keep up. I think that is where we are seeing the push around these highly virtualized datacenters and where Brocade’s strategy for the ‘on-demand’ data centre really comes into it’s own. Data centers’ have to be very flexible these days and they have got to be scalable and they have got to have a large amount of automation in them in order to cater for the demands of the customer base.

I would not say they have fallen behind I would say that the customer requirements have changed dramatically and very fast.

What impact are you seeing on businesses from the shortcomings that this study has suggested?

The impact we are seeing is really around the customer experience and customers are demanding very high level of service level agreements with their hosting environments or their internal IT department and what we are starting to see is that if they have very high performance requirements or very high uptime requirements some of this flexibility I just referred to that they don’t yet have is causing them problems in meeting those requirements. In these cases it is costing them money certainly if there is compliance issues meaning downtime is quite a financial hit that they can take in certain situations.

What needs to be applied to data centers’ to solve these problems?

One of the nice things around the whole concept of fabric and virtualization and software defined networks, certainly with fabrics you can bolt them on to an existing network so you can have a planned migration of the network from three tier you can add on a network without having to do a written replace so it is a very low risk way of migrating one environment into another. As you start to move into things like software defined networks Brocade has released the ability to do hybrid ports and what I mean by that is we can have an ISDN enabled flow network port that you can control via software and you can have that living in the same environment as ports that are dedicated to traditional networking infrastructures and ones that are dedicated 100% to software defined networking control under open flow. Brocade has made it simple and have de-risked the move from the traditional network architectures into what we believe is the architecture that data centers’ of the future will require and demand.

The report states here that 91% of organisations have admitted to needing substantial upgrades to cope, that 91% can’t really afford not to can they?

I think this report is making that a pretty clear statement that the way that applications and customers interact and the customer service level agreements demand they have to change their data centre networks, data centre networks in the past were absolutely suitable for the way that applications were interacting with them. Unfortunately applications be they mobile, be they different types of web interaction have a different set of requirements in the data centre and the traditional three tier model we are starting to see is not necessarily fit for purpose for the way applications are talking to each other and to customers these days. What we are seeing is people moving into fabric technology which has a much simpler method of management of the infrastructure so the costs are running larger and larger enterprises is also reduced when you employ fabric infrastructure.

What would be your advice to IT managers listening to this that know themselves that they need to upgrade as well?

Obviously contact your local Brocade sales rep and have a more in depth discussion around the requirements for their own business but you have got to remember we have deployed well over 1000 of these brand new Brocade customers globally in all sorts of different verticals so we can certainly make their decisions a lot easier with a lot of case studies and reference cases in that are bound to fit into one of those areas so there are plenty of things that we can do upfront to demonstrate the capabilities and the terms and the benefits of fabric technology within their data centre.