Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Dealing with Change in the Data Center - Getting to Network as a Service

We are continuing on a long transition from the physical data center to the virtual data center. Resources that were wholly physical are being virtualized. Resources that were static are now dynamic. This trend started with server virtualization and has expanded to network virtualization. With the move to virtualization you have made progress in gaining better utilization your physical resources. You are using fewer physical servers but they are larger and denser. There are more virtual machines and more network ports to connect them. This has created an exponential growth in the number of interactions that you must make on the network to get everything connected and communicating. The challenge is in the time it takes to get work done. Let’s look at some tools that Juniper provides to make your life easier.

Zero Touch Provisioning
Your first step is to get the equipment up and running. Juniper provides a zero touch provisioning tool that lets you do this using standard configurations for the switches and a DHCP server to assign an IP address and things like that. It’s used by the networking team. It handles routine tasks that are typically done once. With ZTP highly repetitive routing tasks that took hours can be reduced to minutes.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Leveraging Data Center Interconnect For Business Continuity

It’s Time to Reengineer the Wide Area Network
Similar to the data center, organizations are growing increasingly reliant on the wide area network that connects data centers to help them run their businesses.  While the WAN is key to data backup plans for maintaining business continuity, many WAN links aren’t up to the task. Standards-based data center interconnect technology could help you keep operating in the face of a disaster, but some reengineering of the WAN might be in order if the plan is going to work.

Business continuity planning is not always a top priority, since many view it as insurance and not a business driver.  However, you might be able to combine efforts to help you achieve your goals. For instance, transitioning to a private cloud may require WAN links to be reengineered to provide bandwidth on demand so that virtualized workloads can move between data centers based on user demand and resource utilization. This has the added benefit of supporting the varying bandwidth requirements for backing up data between data centers.

Business Continuity and DCI Strategies
When you use DCI to replicate data between geographically distributed locations you will want to configure your LAN connections so that application and storage traffic can flow between data centers as needed to so that you can maximize application availability and provide data redundancy in the case of an outage. Here are some things to think about.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Making the Transition to Converged Storage and Data Networks

Storage and data network convergence holds the promise to transform the data center and make it a more cost effective operation for the Enterprise. There is the potential for considerable savings as a result of reducing the number of network interface cards per server, reducing cabling, and lowering the power and cooling draw, as well as having one less physical network to manage. The change is made possible by the capability to transport Fiber Channel frames over 10 GB Ethernet using Fiber Channel over Ethernet technology. Making the transition isn’t an easy task though. Let’s take a look at some of the considerations and how the transition can be made more easily.

The value of converging networks using FCoE is compelling and many organizations are considering making the move to FCoE but the question is how to do it without disrupting operations. For organizations that are building new data centers and consolidating older ones the answer is easy. They can just build an FCoE capable network in the new data center and migrate their applications and storage over to the new infrastructure. The more difficult situation is what to do if you need to convert an existing production network and cut over to FCoE live? This is where it gets interesting.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

A Practical Look at SDN Software and Hardware Considerations

The Opportunity for SDN
Software Defined Networking represents the biggest change to the network in many years. What makes SDN interesting is the transformation that it can enable. Businesses are looking for more control over their applications on the network. SDN promises to deliver agility and simplification in the network to support applications. With SDN, the network becomes more efficient and agile, and an enabler for delivering on business goals for application performance. As a buyer, it’s understandably difficult to separate the hype from the reality. I’d like to suggest a few points to consider as you map out your SDN strategy.

Implications for the Network
Network operators still need to design, provision, manage, operate and troubleshoot their network. While SDN offers greater simplicity, operators have to continue current network management functions and, at the same time, become educated on  SDN developments. With SDN, new protocols and technologies will emerge. The investments you make in your network infrastructure today need to be flexible enough to see you through the next several years. There will be a hybrid model in the network. This means a mix of overlay technology and physical networks – and the demarcation points will depend on use cases for those overlays and the ability for the physical network to support these overlays. Network operators will have to understand the relationship between the two and be able to design networks appropriately with the right on-ramps and off-ramps. As the management of network shifts away from CLI and more towards orchestration platforms, the network interfaces and integration points (APIs) need to be clearly defined and deliver automation and agility.