Road to cloud II -- Data center without walls
By Karl Horne, Ciena 28-Jun-2012
As more and more data centers open their doors in Asia, the data center itself is changing -- again.
Businesses are moving some of their data processing to the cloud, while application providers offer ever more innovative and customer-friendly cloud-based services. As a result, demand for data centers based in the cloud is starting to pick up at the expense of enterprise data center capacity growth.
Another driver of this trend is that CIOs in the region are expecting more from their data center investments. According to a recent study by IQPC (International Quality & Productivity Center), 42% of Asian enterprises planned to begin or continue investing in data center optimization tools in 2011.
Cloud use in Asia is steadily expanding to enterprise and government, offering on demand access to elastic pooled resources.
Enterprises are evolving their data centers through consolidation, virtualization, data protection, and taking their first steps into cloud services. Moving costs from less flexible capex to on-demand opex is a strong driver for the uptake of cloud-based data center infrastructure services.
This evolution has in part driven the creation of the virtual data center architecture inter-connected with a cloud backbone network. Multiple data centers can be connected to enable workload orchestration, traffic generation and flow. The physical walls of individual data centers effectively are broken down to create a virtual data center capacity encompassing multiple physical ones -- a "Data Center Without Walls." (See Figure 1 below)
"Data Center Without Walls" describes an architecture that creates a multi-data center, hybrid cloud environment able to function as one virtual data center to address any magnitude of workload demand and offer seamless workflow movement. It enables effective asset pooling among data centers to deliver resource efficiencies, as well as increased resiliency and performance gains over isolated provider data center architectures. This new hybrid cloud architecture delivers improvements in enterprise economics helping IT to achieve the 25% reduction in IT services and hardware expenses promised from cloud adoption ("Job growth in the forecast: How cloud computing is generating new business opportunities and fueling job growth in the United States," Sand Hill, 2011).
Figure 1. Cloud backbone network interconnecting data centers in a Data Center Without Walls
However, for enterprise-level performance we also need to consider the network that connects the data centers and how these inter-data center networks must become more intelligent to support seamless cloud-based use. While it is inevitable that more and more businesses use the cloud to send and store data, it is simplistic to assume that preparing the network is just a matter of increasing its capacity for bandwidth.
An intelligent cloud network would include:
- A cloud backbone network that provides assured service performance while minimizing latency and maintaining a consistent high-level operation -- at the optimum cost;
- Performance on-demand to efficiently accommodate variable and unpredictable traffic loads, and;
- Network "hypervisor" -- management software that will align network resources between data centers for improved economics and application performance .
As the concept "Data Center Without Walls" matures for workload orchestration, the distinction between the enterprise and cloud data centers will continue to blur, allowing enterprises to interconnect cloud resources with greater efficiency and performance.
Karl Horne is chief technology officer Asia Pacific, Ciena