Best Practices: Maximizing I/O

Mar 07, 2011


Let the I/O Roll: 8 Steps To Maximize Performance

Advances in networking have often been the catalysts for IT revolutions—witness the rise of client/server applications in the ’90s on the back of enterprise LANs and network operating systems like Netware and Windows LAN Manager, or the  mother of all paradigm shifts ignited by the Web’s ascendance as an application and media platform. While the mobile Internet continues to upend the client and application market, in the enterprise, we’re now in an unusual time when networks are actually reacting to changes elsewhere in the IT ecosystem—changes precipitated by the unrelenting expansion of server processing power and the rise of virtual servers as the default configuration for application hosting.

Optimizing I/O—letting it roll, as it were—in this new environment means more than just adding LAN bandwidth, though that’s important. Moving to next-generation Ethernet technology is clearly the foundation upon which other capabilities are built. But the changes don’t stop there. Optimization also entails converging data and storage networks, building networks aware of and responsive to the unique characteristics of virtual servers, and virtualizing the network itself so that communication resources can be dynamically apportioned in response to changing usage patterns and new applications.

Servers themselves are now important parts of the network ecosystem—particularly blade systems with new I/O modules that make it much easier to consolidate and virtualize LANs and SANs. Virtual servers, running virtual appliance software, can also usurp many network functions, like load balancing, WAN optimization, traffic monitoring and data compression, that were formerly the domain of dedicated hardware appliances. We’ll examine the milieu of today’s data center and outline some strategies for wringing the most performance, utility and efficiency out of your next network upgrade. (B2620311)

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