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Networking changes removing IT silos

By Max Burkhalter
May 10, 2011
Historically, the network, server and other parts of the IT department have been separated into silos. Each group operated separately, managing different parts of a company's data center operations, and the different groups rarely needed to work in concert.

This trend is changing with the advent of converged infrastructure in data center environments, InfoWorld reports. New models for data center infrastructure are increasingly converging network tools, such as 100 GbE ports, and servers. This improves network and device efficiency, while also converging IT silos into single units that need to work cooperatively to optimize the data center. Because of this, managing server virtualization and storage area networks is just as much about configuring servers as it is about optimizing the network, the report said.

In traditional data center environments, the report explained that different hardware would be used to establish the network fabric, storage fabric and server fabric. Unified fabric technologies are converging these distinct sectors into a unified hardware infrastructure that is unified into a single device or set of symbiotic components. This negates the need to balance updates between disparate fabrics to make sure everything can still function in concert because the hardware is almost inherently interoperable and capable of functioning as a unit, according to the report.

While converged infrastructure is simplifying data center network management and hardware deployment, removing IT silos is creating some challenges within the IT department, the report said. Since network engineers are suddenly dealing with storage and server experts have to interact with the network infrastructure, the hardware needs to be designed in such a way that IT workers with diverse expertise can understand its capabilities and manage it effectively. The report said this has created a challenging environment in some data centers, but is being dealt with by instructional materials targeted toward specific types of IT professionals.

Unified fabric and other converged data center technologies can also have a dramatic impact on a business' ability to reduce operating expenses. According to a recent IDC report, unified fabric technology can reduce data center expenses by 34 percent annually. Converged infrastructure technologies reduce expenses by removing the multi-fabric system that treats storage, server and general internet networks as separate entities. Instead, every aspect of the data center's network taps into the general network infrastructure and uses a distributed connection, the report said.


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