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Discontinuity becoming a major problem in data center network

By Donna Donnawitz
February 27, 2012
Data center network infrastructure is rapidly falling behind other systems, creating a sense of discontinuity that is creating major operational issues, a recent study from the Enterprise Strategy Group found. According to a recent Network Computing report, the disconnect between network systems and other data center hardware is created primarily by advances in cloud computing and data center consolidation.

These emerging technologies are putting more data on servers, forcing bandwidth to escalate and creating more hardware complexity. However, the network equipment that supports these systems are still built around legacy technology in many cases, making upgrades particularly important in the sector, the study found. Jon Oltsik, senior principal analyst at ESG, told the news source that consolidation is especially prevalent in creating this disconnect.

"Data center networking discontinuity is a gap that's evolved between where data center technology is going and what the network is capable of. Our research points to the fact that 63 percent of enterprises -defined as organizations with 1,000 employees or more - have either done data center consolidation projects or are doing so," Oltsik told Network Computing.

The report said the ESG study indicates that organizations are eliminating between 25 percent and 50 percent of their data center infrastructure. This is all possible because data center consolidation uses virtualization to improve server utilization, reducing the hardware needs of the facility.

At the same time as businesses are consolidating their data center architectures, they are also turning to third-party hosting providers to outsource many operations. Oltsik told Network Computing that this is leading to more complex data center systems among these vendors, further emphasizing the gap between networking and other hardware elements and making upgrades even more important. Until these upgrades are made, organizations will face significant operational challenges because legacy networks are already configured and cannot be readily adapted to meet changing operational requirements.

Cloud computing and data center consolidation require network upgrades because they drive more data through the same amount of hardware. For example, a virtualized server holds multiple virtual machines, but still only has a single network port. This means that the bandwidth is shared between all of the VMs. Network upgrades can resolve these issues by adding more data throughput or optimizing existing infrastructure to meet current needs.

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