Why 'Unified' Is The Hot New Idea For Data Centers - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

IoT
IoT
Government // Mobile & Wireless
News
3/12/2009
04:30 PM
George Crump
George Crump
Features
50%
50%

Why 'Unified' Is The Hot New Idea For Data Centers

It's time to think about running your IP and storage networks together. And Cisco's not the only one that thinks so.

Recommended Adoption Plan

Companies that are building a new data center or making a major expansion should consider a unified infrastructure. But many companies are trying to avoid building new data centers, at least until better financial times come, and they see consolidating servers as the way to do that. What's their best strategy?

A unified data center is by no means a foregone conclusion in a real-world data center, even if some of the most influential tech vendors line up behind it. It's important for CIOs to have a plan to handle server growth for the next few years--and to do that now, so any equipment they buy supports a unified infrastructure approach, if that's the strategy they pursue. One laggard in this movement looks likely to be the physical storage systems, which show every sign of remaining Fibre Channel-based for the foreseeable future.

Companies still can get plenty of performance gains without switching to FCoE. Most vendors project significant cost reductions in 8-Gb Fibre Channel connectivity over the next year. Brocade in particular remains committed to 16-Gb Fibre Channel, and the expectation is that the rest of the network interface card and switch providers will deliver those upgrades as well.

There's no good financial case for ripping out existing infrastructure to replace it with FCoE. A phase-in will lay the groundwork for a unified infrastructure as the needs demand. This phase-in will mean minimizing investment in Fibre Channel switches and 1-Gb Ethernet blades for the IP infrastructure, and instead bringing new servers online via FCoE. As they're deployed, it will reduce cabling space and management over time.

The cost of the switch often will be the big hurdle, one reason people are eagerly awaiting Cisco's unified infrastructure plans. If adding servers under today's model, which can use four times as many ports as unified infrastructure, will force a company to buy a new switch, that cost may justify the purchase of an FCoE switch.

Companies will be drawn to unified infrastructure to solve tactical problems, such as the cost and complexity of maintaining the multiple interface cards and rat's nests of cables coming out of the back of servers, as well as the need for more IP bandwidth. More strategically, they'll want the cost savings and operating agility that comes with more dynamically realigning resources without fiddling with the underlying physical infrastructure. If vendors can deliver that, CIOs are ready to listen.

George Crump is founder of Storage Switzerland, an analyst firm focused on virtualization and storage.

Illustration by Bryan Christie Design

Continue to the sidebars:
BMC CEO: Cisco Bringing iPhone-esque Shake-Up To The Server Market
and
The Increasing Problem With Ports

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Previous
4 of 4
Next
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
InformationWeek Is Getting an Upgrade!

Find out more about our plans to improve the look, functionality, and performance of the InformationWeek site in the coming months.

Commentary
Why IT Leaders Should Make Cloud Training a Top Priority
John Edwards, Technology Journalist & Author,  4/14/2021
Slideshows
10 Things Your Artificial Intelligence Initiative Needs to Succeed
Lisa Morgan, Freelance Writer,  4/20/2021
Commentary
Lessons I've Learned From My Career in Technology
Guest Commentary, Guest Commentary,  5/4/2021
White Papers
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Video
Current Issue
Planning Your Digital Transformation Roadmap
Download this report to learn about the latest technologies and best practices or ensuring a successful transition from outdated business transformation tactics.
Slideshows
Flash Poll