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Data center networks poised for change in 2012

By Donna Donnawitz
January 3, 2012
During the past year, the data center networking sector experienced a major influx of emerging technologies and solutions that promised major changes in how operators connect servers, monitor hardware and deliver solutions to end users. Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst of ZK Research, recently told TechTarget many of the networking trends that emerged in 2011 will lead to many new investments and changes in 2012.

Flattened Ethernet architectures are among the areas positioned for growth in the coming year. According to Kerravala, data center operational patterns are making flattened Ethernet necessary and current market conditions point to significant growth opportunities for the technology. However, there are still questions that need to be answered before flattened architectures become mainstream. Chief among these concerns is which protocol will end up becoming dominant.

Kerravala told TechTarget some vendors are favoring the Transparent Interconnection of Lots of Links, others are pushing for proprietary solutions and some are getting behind shortest path bridging. All of these options offer significant potential for flattened Ethernet, creating an environment where the protocol debate will not stifle growth.

While flat Ethernet networks are definitely on the horizon for 2012, Kerravala warned that organizations should not expect too much from converged storage architectures. Converging storage networks offers many operational benefits in the data center, but it requires high-performance operational capabilities to unlock those gains. Because of this, Kerravala told TechTarget storage convergence will fail to gain significant adoption in the data center until more operators have deployed faster Ethernet infrastructure.

Automation will also emerge as a key data center networking trend during the coming year. Kerravala told TechTarget automation tools are becoming essential to offer operators the network management capabilities they require and will, therefore, become more popular during 2012.

To a great extent, virtualization is the key catalyst for many of these advances. Putting multiple virtual machines on a single physical server is increasing data center bandwidth requirements, making high data throughput capabilities essential and creating an environment in which the network is a priority, not just a supporting technology. Many experts agree that network and desktop virtualization could become more popular during 2012, adding to the complexity created by server virtualization, but also creating key benefits when it comes to hardware investments.

Perle’s wide range of 1 to 48 port Perle Console Servers provide data center managers and network administrators with secure remote management of any device with a serial console port. Plus, they are the only truly fault tolerant Console Servers on the market with the advanced security functionality needed to easily perform secure remote data center management and out-of-band management of IT assets from anywhere in the world.


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