Silo Wars: The Reality of the Modern Data Center

“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” – Sun Tzu

Users rarely consider enabling technologies until something goes wrong. Well-engineered technology, whether a bridge over the Potomac or a cluster of dynamically-provisioned servers, should be invisible when performing optimally. Put another way, for those it supports, your infrastructure should neither be seen nor heard. This creates a fundamental disconnect between the tacticians focused on maintaining the specific technologies they find themselves responsible for, and the strategists responsible for the performance of the infrastructure as a whole, and the mission-critical services such as CRM, ERP, and email that they underlie.

While those who find themselves elbow-deep in the datacenter may know their racks down to the cable, at the C-level and the user level, what matters is how well the service they’re providing performs. This disconnect between the real-world realities of a chassis in a rack, the SAN it’s wired into, the network delivering it up – and the abstraction of the one or many services it provides sometimes creates conflict both within the data center and all the way up to the corner office.  It’s a challenge many technical managers are familiar with – the need for an approach to real-world problems that blends the tactical realities of a humming data center with the strategy required to innovate.

So how can a savvy technical manager reconcile these two worlds? [Read more…]

It’s time for a little housekeeping on the data center floor.

What’s Unified Fabric Networking technologies?

 As the number of data, applications and servers in data centers have increased, so have corresponding storage and networks. Couple this with an increasing appetite for Virtualization and networking seems to have been a bit forgotten.  As organizations look to condense platforms and applications the demand on networking and storage connectivity continues to increase.  Most organizations have separate fabrics, and redundant networking switches, for their IP data and SAN connectivity.  This adds additional complexity and equipment in the environment that has to be managed, monitored and controlled.

 The place has gotten crowded to put it mildly and it’s reduced the flexibility of organizations to adapt to changing business needs – like getting onboard the cloud.

 One answer to this housekeeping challenge has been a new standard called Data Center Bridging (DCBx), which collapses IP and Storage networks (regardless or protocol) down to a single common network infrastructure and unifies all these disparate networking fabrics – eliminating a lot of switches, cables and more.

 This converged infrastructure – or Unified Fabric Networking as it’s often called – is really about unifying the fabrics of connectivity on the data center floor so that as much as possible works through one single wire. Now you’re able to provision any connectivity you want across that wire. No longer do you have to bring down a machine and recable or bring in more switches. It can all be done elastically and dynamically. [Read more…]