Keeping up with the cloud: Embracing a more dynamic data center

Keeping up with the cloud: Embracing a more dynamic data center

Increased adoption of virtualization over the past decade and a recent boost in cloud adoption is causing data centers to evolve at an unprecedented pace.

“The drive to the cloud or hybrid IT changes the dynamic of the data center,” says Chris Martin, Senior Systems Engineer at Softchoice. “Where application data resides and where applications are hosted are very different today than five years ago.”

“And that’s changing traffic in the data center and now you need to ask, ‘How do I support that as an IT organization?’”

This blog is second in a three-part Cisco ‘Ask an Expert’ series looking at how hybrid IT is influencing the technology topics of the network, data center, and unified communications. We asked Martin to outline the issues and trends that are reshaping the face of data centers and how organizations can better support them today.

What are the trends impacting data centers today?

There’s a lot of consolidation. Virtualization has driven a lot of it, from multiple dedicated computers for each application down to just a single server running them all. And now even that is being stretched between cloud, or multiple data centers or even just various nodes for storage. The architecture has changed so much over the past few years.

Technology trends like big data, analytics, the IoT (the Internet of Things) each have their own unique impact on the data center as well. As we connect more and more devices we create more and more data, and that leads to increased storage requirements. For companies with IoT or big data initiatives, how the data center is designed and deployed is changing.

How can IT better keep up with this changing face of the data center and support it?

One big change is around the expectation of availability created by the cloud, and how fast you can turn IT resources up and down. To be cost effective, organizations need to turn their data centers into a private cloud, where they can treat applications similarly whether on or off premise. The way that happens is through automation, whether it’s software-defined networking (SDN) or the orchestration of VMware applications.

Basically, it comes down to needing to do more with less. You need to automate, streamline, and bring in orchestration technologies to help manage that. You also need architectures, vendors, and equipment that are very open in order to support that process.

It’s a long migration roadmap, but even as you take small steps towards it, you want to keep the end goal in sight. This is where we help a lot of customers by identifying where they are today and how they can move their networks into the required architecture, such as SDN. We then assist with implementation, and have the ability, through Keystone Managed Services, to support that architecture.

How can organizations better ready their data centers to take advantage of things like IoT and big data?

Don’t overlook the importance of the network. It’s always a critical part of the data center, even if traffic stays within it. It’s not just performance that is crucial, but also security.

Make sure the network is designed to support the different architectures involved and aligns with the technology initiatives being launched.

It’s like a town. Think of the network as the roads. Every town is different and is going to have their own roadmaps and requirements based on size and throughput and requirements. Like a town, you’re going to have standardization and notable things true of all data centers, but where and how they happen are different for each.
What key things need to be asked when evaluating data center solutions?

One of the most important considerations you must ask yourself is, how do I manage this? What strain is this new piece of equipment going to put on my administrators?

Performance is always the number one thing to look at. The number two consideration is how easily it can be managed. Number three is understanding what support options exist. Number four is keeping in mind the business initiatives and what is needed to complete them. And, moving towards them.

Having a high degree of support from vendors and partners is important. With any solution, you need to consider how hard it is to replace an administrator when you lose them.
Remember the network is key. You could have the best data center technology in the world, but if you don’t have the right technology connecting it everyone is going to suffer. The network is the lifeblood of the data center.

Ask an Expert Webinar

Want to learn more about the role of the network on the changing face of the data center for the Cisco infrastructure? Join Chris Martin for 30 minutes on January 24th and register for our Ask an Expert Series focused on the data center.

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About Softchoice Advisor

The Softchoice Advisor provides vendor-focused solutions and opinions to thousands of organizations across North America.