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Data centres and Virtualisation at the crossroads: application fluency is the new network paradigm

Johan Ragmo, Data Business Development Manager for the Northern Region at Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise looking at application fluency within the network.


Date: 7 Nov 2011

“There is tremendous pressure on today’s existing network infrastructure: we have the dramatic growth in real-time applications and significant increase in demand for mobile devices support as the enterprise fights to keep pace with the consumerisation of IT.

"We’ve talked a lot about the benefits that virtualisation brings to the enterprise in terms of cost efficient support for these growing pressures, but for these very reasons, it can be a major culprit in putting additional stress on the network. According to Gartner, between 2009 and 2010, the number of virtual machines in corporate data centres increased more than 50 percent.1 Yet the traditional data centre network is not optimally designed for server and desktop virtualisation.

“For instance, there was a time when a Spanning Tree Protocol (STP) made sense in terms of balancing asset utilisation. But in today’s highly virtualised environment where low-latency, server-to-server connectivity is needed, a spanning tree is no longer viable because of the need to dynamically adapt in real time to the user demands for bandwidth, low latency, and support for any device anywhere.

“It is critical that the network, including the data centre, can accommodate and dynamically adapt to the increasingly demanding workload by building the model that Gartner calls “application fluency”. We at Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise have already adopted an application-fluent approach toward architecting the next-generation data centre network, so I talk from real experience.

“From the now mainstream and widespread adoption of server virtualisation, companies are already taking the initial necessary first steps toward application fluency by looking to deploy a next-generation data centre switching network, one that is more agile and adaptable to the changing needs of the enterprise. Yet many organisations have not been able to reap all of the benefits of server virtualisation because virtual machine (VM) movement requires manual intervention to modify network provisioning – and dealing with this is the next step towards application fluency.

“Network virtualisation enables the data centre switching network to route traffic based on the optimal path in the network, and can deliver a switching fabric with extremely low-latency. Equally important, a true data centre fabric will automatically adapt to VM movement to relieve IT of the burden of manually provisioning the network. This way, data centre networks can adapt to the higher bandwidth requirements of media-rich applications such as video while supporting server and desktop virtualisation, and take the next important steps in providing true application fluency across the network.”
1 “Gartner’s Numbers for Virtualization Say it All,” by Alex Williams, December 20, 2010, ReadWriteCloud.


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Tags: Server Virtualization, Storage Virtualization, I/O Virtualization, Network Virtualization, Desktop Virtualization

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