The Network Is Critical to Next-Generation Data Centers

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The Network Is Critical to Next-Generation Data Centers

  1. 1. The Network Is Critical to Next-Generation Data Centers www.yankeegroup.com by Zeus Kerravala | March 2007 Executive Summary Today’s enterprises are struggling with maintaining their data • Business continuity: As we have seen in recent years, centers efficiently. Network managers currently utilize 80% of disaster recovery and business continuity have become their IT budgets to react to maintenance and management, strategic initiatives because events such as 9/1 and 1 leaving few investment dollars for new IT initiatives. Hurricane Katrina have taught many enterprises a few hard Furthermore, as the demand for more applications increases, lessons in business continuity. High availability is now a the additional hardware makes managing the data center even nonnegotiable necessity. more complex. As enterprises evolve to become more global, • Convergence of the network and computing stacks— network managers are forced to restructure and consolidate Moore’s law meets Metcalfe’s law: The phrase “the their existing data centers, centralizing their resources to ensure network is the computer” was first used many years ago, consistency and quality of service throughout the organization. but it wasn’t quite true—the compute infrastructure ran As globalization and mobility become more prevalent, the over the network, but independently. The shift to need for security also becomes more of a concern. virtualization created an environment where compute resources are scattered throughout the network and, in The data center has evolved since the days of the mainframe many cases, embedded into it. (see Exhibit 1). If architected correctly, the data center can be a strategic asset for companies. However, there are many Exhibit 1 challenges that have to be overcome: Data Center Evolution • Better usage of IT budgets: Currently, 80% of budgets Source: Yankee Group, 2007 are used to “keep the lights on,” meaning organizations have few dollars to invest in new initiatives. The budget Tactical Strategic required to maintain the status quo continues to increase; eventually the entire budget will be used for maintenance if companies don’t make a change. Mainframe Mini PC/Client Internet On-Demand Server Utility • Increasing complexity: As the transition to on-demand continues, the data center becomes less vertically integrated, which increases the overall complexity. • Globalization: Today, the majority of companies deal on the internet, which means that the organization is now global. Critical information served up from the data center has to be available to any user—no matter where he or she may be located. • Improved security: The vision of delivering any information to any user in any location is ambitious. Part of ensuring this becomes a reality involves solid security that protects the infrastructure and the data. This custom publication has been funded by Foundry Networks. © Copyright 1997-2007. Yankee Group Research, Inc. All rights reserved. This Yankee Group Consulting Report is published for the sole use of Yankee Group clients. It may not be duplicated, reproduced or transmitted in whole or in part without the express permission of Yankee Group, 31 St. James Avenue, Boston, MA 021 For more information, contact Yankee Group: info@yankeegroup.com; Phone: 617-956-5005. 16. All rights reserved. All opinions and estimates herein constitute our judgment as of this date and are subject to change without notice.
  2. 2. March 2007 Table of Contents I. Current Data Center Challenges. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 II. The Next-Generation Data Center . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Mainframe Computing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Minicomputers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Client/Server Architecture . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Internet Computing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 On-Demand or Utility Computing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Virtualization. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Grid Computing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Cluster Computing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 III. The Role of the Network. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 IV. Conclusions and Recommendations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 Recommendations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 I. Current Data Center Challenges he data center has become the nerve center of any company. most enterprise applications are standalone on siloed, T All of the constituents in a company’s extended enterprise rely on the information and applications in the data center (see underutilized infrastructure. Each infrastructure component is deployed based on the rollout of a specific function or application. Exhibit 2). Many years ago, the data center wasn’t strategic at all for most Exhibit 2 companies. However, because of the rise in internet traffic and The Extended Enterprise Source: Yankee Group, 2007 networked applications, the data center has become one of the most strategic assets an organization has and a key focus of IT Buy Make/Add Value Sell and Service strategy. A well-designed data center can have a major impact on a company’s top and bottom lines by improving productivity and business processes and also by being the catalyst for change in an Back Office Front Office organization. An efficient data center enables organizations to Channels and Customers Suppliers grow their business while reducing the overall total cost of E-Business Network ownership and providing a greater level of security. • Sales • Manufacturing • Support/ • Finance Service However, to achieve these goals, data center managers face several • Engineering • Marketing new challenges. During the unparalleled economic growth of the past decade, most corporate data centers grew quickly—without Supply Front-/Back-Office Demand any thought to manageability or long-term planning. As a result, Chain Integration Chain 2 © Copyright 1997-2007. Yankee Group Research, Inc. All rights reserved.
  3. 3. March 2007 Each application has its own server, storage and network components, 5. There are no integrated server and storage platforms. creating a highly inefficient environment (see Exhibit 3). This To date, integration has not been as prevalent as it should be. inefficiency surrounding enterprise data centers has lead to the Integration will help to further lower the TCO for data centers. following 10 deadly sins of data centers, as defined by Yankee Group: 6. Vendors’ specific implementations dictate technology 1. There is very little long-term strategic planning to measure adoption and management strategies. Proprietary solutions infrastructure growth. Data centers have always been treated have led to a fragmented data center, forcing managers to on an “as come” basis; they are always reactive and never adopt their technologies according to their vendor proactive. The norm has always been to add applications as implementation, instead of the opposite. necessary and to add more servers as well. This has been done 7. IT silos prevent standardization and consistent with no long-term plan. In addition, the growth needs of the management strategies. Some company plagues aren’t network in the foreseeable future are often grossly technical at all—they’re organizational. The enterprise data underestimated, further compounding this problem. center isn’t owned by any one group and requires the 2. There is a lack of consistent service levels across coordination of the network, server, storage and application application, server, storage and network levels. Because teams, all of whom may have different goals. these have always been siloed, service levels within each level 8. Vendor and short-term firefighting drive management have never been consistent. There is an inability to determine strategies. IT and network managers often strive for which level is being underutilized and to then reallocate management excellence, but they rarely get there. Typically, resources more efficiently. the current “problem of the day” dominates management 3. Hardware utilization is increasingly inefficient. Yankee strategies and is often treated as a firefighting exercise. Group estimates that current server utilization is less than 50%, 9. New technology deployments are generally viewed as storage utilization is less than 35% and network utilization is pioneering and complex—not as a shift to standardization. less than 30%—hardly the numbers a CIO striving for Because the data center houses many of the top assets of an maximum efficiency wants. organization, technology deployments are often conservative 4. There are islands of complexity and users’ access to and new technologies viewed as risky. applications and data is not universal. Currently, there are 10. There is a lack of metering or a chargeback mechanism. A many methods of application delivery that users need to use to goal that most data center managers try to achieve is to access enterprise applications and data. The application-specific understand the exact cost of an application so they can better deployment of infrastructure caused these islands of allocate costs across the business units. However, there are few complexity. good metering and chargeback tools, so enterprises often have to build their own. Exhibit 3 Today’s Inefficient Data Center Silos Source: Yankee Group, 2007 These 10 deadly sins have created an environment where 80% of budgets are used to maintain the existing environment. Many of $$$ $$$ the IT professionals Yankee Group has interviewed expect this percentage will gradually increase year-over-year if the operating environment does not change. $$$ CRM Custom IT departments are under pressure to improve operational Application efficiency and optimize the resources that reside in a data center to $$$ $$$ lower the overall total cost of ownership. This will create new Supply funds that IT organizations can use for new project development Chain and other strategic, revenue-generating activities. To accomplish this, data center managers require an infrastructure that is resilient Financial Back-Office and agile. Applications Application © Copyright 1997-2007. Yankee Group Research, Inc. All rights reserved. 3
  4. 4. March 2007 The holy grail of the data center is a flexible infrastructure that Minicomputers can adapt to any situation that new business process may dictate. A strong, planned data center strategy can turn the silo-centric inicomputers developed as an alternative to mainframes data center into one that is service-centric. To achieve this, a high- performance, secure, flexible and scalable network must be the M because they provide the same power and capacity, but with a much smaller frame and lower cost. Minicomputers also foundation for a next-generation data center. provide much more flexibility in terms of developing applications. However, because they did not need a specialized environment, II. The Next-Generation Data Center they were often set up on desks or in labs—not in the data center. Because minicomputers did not follow any of the normal rules and processes governing a traditional data center, they caused a chaotic he data center has undergone several major transformations T during the years. As the data center has evolved, the number of users a single data center can support has increased environment. Furthermore, application portability was impossible because each vendor had a proprietary OS and did not allow programs written for one mini to be ported to another. exponentially. The main phases of data center computing are: • Mainframe computing • Minicomputers • Client/server architecture Client/Server Architecture • Internet computing lient/server architecture developed to provide widespread • On-demand or utility computing C data access. Client servers provide the scalability, flexibility and usability needed to support the increasing number of users migrating to web-based applications. They also increase employee Mainframe Computing productivity, improve company workflow and—most importantly—enable distributed computing. ainframes have always been—and to some extent continue M to be—powerful machines within the data center. Many large enterprises still maintain mainframes for several reasons, However, this was the beginning of the end. Because client/server architecture enables flexibility in application development, including the most obvious reason—cost. Enterprises have made business units would develop vertically specific applications and large investments in mainframes and want to utilize their have their own server. Although it may have seemed like the one- investment fully. However, it became cost prohibitive to maintain application-to-one-server model, in fact, client/server architecture and upgrade mainframes. In addition, time-to-market became requires multiple servers to support one application, increasing increasingly long, sometimes taking years for mainframe hardware within the data center. development to occur. Internet Computing nternet computing evolved as the use of the broader I commercial internet evolved. It was discovered that a great deal of workstations remained idle most of the time. Internet computing sought to take these workstations and make them powerful, distributed computing systems. It has enabled large- scale aggregation and sharing of computational, data and other resources across institutional boundaries. 4 © Copyright 1997-2007. Yankee Group Research, Inc. All rights reserved.
  5. 5. March 2007 On-Demand or Utility Computing Grid Computing or many, on-demand computing is the future of the enterprise. rid computing is another example of how interconnecting F Enterprise demand for computing resources varies; on- demand computing enables enterprises to meet fluctuating demand G compute nodes can help to provide resources more efficiently. While virtualization deals more with managing more efficiently. It allows a more automated, business policy- resources in a virtual environment, grid computing is the physical driven model. In an on-demand environment, data center interconnection of compute nodes. The net result is a “grid” of resources are pools of resources available to applications and multiple servers that acts as one logical server. Obviously, the services on an on-demand basis. network is key to a successful grid implementation. Virtualization Cluster Computing e have now come full circle. Where flexibility and the luster computing is a variation of grid computing and W freedom to deploy applications and their accompanying servers was a benefit, it created significant hardware sprawl, C virtualization. It integrates off-the-shelf commodity computers, behaves as a single computer and serves as a resource making consolidation inevitable. Technologies such as connected through hardware, networks and software. Cluster virtualization and grid computing will revolutionize the way data computing provides the scalability capacity for compute, data and centers operate today. transaction-intensive applications. Exhibit 4 Virtualization of compute resources such as storage and servers Virtualization Is Well-Deployed and Has a Quick Payback has become a major initiative for almost every organization. The Source: Yankee Group 2006 Virtualization Survey long-term vision of virtualization is to create virtual pools of When will you deploy virtualization software? resources that applicants and services can access in real time. No definitive migration These virtual resources can be located across the data center or timetable 15% across the globe. Within 12 to 18 months 1% Within 9 to 12 months We have already 6% deployed or are Successful deployment of virtualization requires a highly in the process Within the next 6 months of deploying available, secure network to connect these resources together. In 7% 62% today’s organizations, it’s essential to be able to access a common, Within the next 3 months shared pool of computing resources as if they were a few virtual 9% systems. Enterprises need to utilize these resources more efficiently to maximize them. When did you realize a return on your investment in virtualization technology? A recent Yankee Group survey shows that 61% of enterprises are Immediately using virtualization software and 24% have seen a return on their 26% investment in less than 6 months (see Exhibit 4). Virtualization will continue to grow rapidly, but a highly scalable network is Unsure required for virtualization to be utilized fully. 39% Within 1 to 3 months 9% Within 3 to 6 months 7% We still have not seen Within 6 to 12 months any perceptible ROI 8% 9% More than 1 year 2% © Copyright 1997-2007. Yankee Group Research, Inc. All rights reserved. 5
  6. 6. March 2007 Cluster computing technologies will further enhance how Consequently, the network needs to be architected with this in enterprises can efficiently access the computing resources already mind. To achieve this architecture, the network must have the available to them and will focus their IT budgets on new following characteristics: initiatives—not on maintenance and management of existing • Non-blocking architecture: Switches are often designed with resources. oversubscription in mind. That means that the architecture of a switch assumes that not every port will be at full utilization at Cluster computing will be tied to the concept of utility computing the same time. When wiring closets or making low-traffic and how enterprise applications must be able to access a common, assumptions, this is a safe assumption, but this can lead to shared pool of computing resources (e.g., servers, storage and bottlenecks and poor application performance in a high- networks) as if they were a few virtual systems (see Exhibit 5). At performance data center. A non-blocking switch fabric enables the center of these resources is the network. In this environment, every port to operate at maximum capacity simultaneously. the network is truly the lifeline of any data center, and best-of- This is one of the most overlooked aspects of a switch but also breed, industry-leading technology is a must. one of the most important. • High density: In a data center environment, high-density switches can play a key role in simplifying design. A high- III. The Role of the Network density switch enables more connections to fewer overall physical devices, preventing sprawl, minimizing the amount of he enterprise network supports the most important business cabling and power required and creating an overall simpler T applications and corporate communications. The data center is where the majority of the critical business applications and environment to manage. Most vendors claim to have similar port density numbers, but many vendors fail to deliver services reside. consistent feature performance across all ports when there are heavy loads on the switch. The network will play a significant role in the next-generation • High availability: One of the requirements of an on-demand data center. For a company to have a truly on-demand data center, data center is that the resources are continuously available. the network needs to be on-demand as well. That is, the network That means the network equipment connecting the various must deliver consistent performance to be highly scalable, pools of resources must be continuously available as well. available 24x7, secure and manageable. Computing and Potential buyers should look for vendors that created their application resources that can be delivered anywhere on the product with high availability in mind. A consistent operating network at any moment comprise the future of the data center. system, strong management interfaces and hardware redundancy are the keys. • Scalability: The goal for all organizations is to grow. Exhibit 5 Therefore, as the company grows, so does the data center. As The Virtualized Data Center Source: Yankee Group, 2007 the data center grows, the network must be able to scale to accommodate the growth. A data center-class network must be Virtualized Near- able to be upgraded with relative ease to make scaling the Access Line Layer Storage network as simple as possible. Customers should be sure to consider the long-term plans for the data center when selecting the right product. Often, products are sized for current Virtual Network Compute requirements without any consideration of growth. The Applications Resources Resources growing use of virtualization imposes new demands on the network, which customers should not underestimate. It is Local therefore essential to futureproof the network and allow Remote Storage enough headroom for growth in the foreseeable future. Storage Pool 6 © Copyright 1997-2007. Yankee Group Research, Inc. All rights reserved.
  7. 7. March 2007 • Virtualization: Much of the focus of virtualization has been of these products and will increase the life expectancy of these around server and storage virtualization. However, network resources. A network-based data center will also reduce virtualization has been in place for years. Virtual LANs operational expenses by simplifying many administrative costs (VLANs), VPN support, port aggregation and quality of as well as lowering power and cooling costs. service (QoS) are all forms of network virtualization. • Service agility: A network-based data center will provide the • Lower total cost of ownership (TCO): The operational ability to respond dynamically to any changes in business portion of the overall TCO of running a network is well more demands. New services can be provisioned much faster from a than 60%. A well-designed next-generation data center should shared pool of resources that can be allocated on an as-needed have a lower TCO by assuming a 5-year time horizon. Having basis. Ideally, this would lead to policy-driven resource a long-term planning horizon avoids the frustration of going allocation, which further streamlines operational procedures. through repeated redesigns in the future. Specifically, • Better service levels: With a next-generation data center, IT enterprises must evaluate vendors on their: organizations can create better service by providing optimized — Operator training costs access to information at any point across the extended enterprise. — Recurring maintenance costs (e.g., cost of annual or This brings companies closer to the vision of delivering any multiyear support contracts) content to any device anywhere in the organization. — Cost of additional spare components — Headroom to enable new applications and for future growth — Power consumption cost for running the network Recommendations — Cooling cost for running the data center network infrastructure — Real estate cost, where applicable here are many vendors that claim to have data center-quality — Any hidden costs for enabling new applications in the future (e.g., costs for purchasing and installing additional T products, but the products vary greatly in cost and features. For companies currently planning a new data center design we software licenses across the network components, recommend the following actions. purchasing and installing incremental hardware or—in • Understand the difference between TCO and acquisition cost. some extreme cases—doing a forklift of the entire system Many vendors claim to have the lowest TCO but really mean to install a completely different product) they have the lowest cost product. The operational portion of the overall TCO of running a network is well more than 60%, Traditional network infrastructure design does not scale well so a lower cost product could still have a higher TCO. across the increasingly complex data center landscape. A well- • Test all the required features with a heavy network load. designed network can be the foundation to address many of the It’s easy for vendors to claim a long list of features, but do the challenges in the data center and is increasingly recognized as a features work when there’s a heavy load on the network—as valuable asset for applying data center resources in a more often found in the data center? When testing data center scalable, reliable and secure manner. equipment, it’s crucial that features are tested for functionality and load tested. • Design the data center with the network in mind. Much of IV. Conclusions and Recommendations next-generation data center design revolves around the storage or server infrastructure. The network is the only piece of the y leveraging a portfolio of high-performance network data center that touches all components and therefore should B devices, leading-edge technology and best practices, an IT department can evolve the data center into a flexible, dynamic, be at the center of the design. The network can be a strategic component of the data center rather than just the “pipes.” resilient and secure business asset. A next-generation data center will achieve the following benefits: • Lower TCO: A data center designed from the network up significantly lowers capital costs by consolidating expensive computing resources. Companies will realize better utilization © Copyright 1997-2007. Yankee Group Research, Inc. All rights reserved. 7
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