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Cloud Deployments Require Data Center Networking Adjustment

Organizations should consider advanced data center networking solutions for flexibility and cloud compatibility.

Data center networking advancements are needed for cloud deployments.

Source: Thinkstock

By Elizabeth O'Dowd

- Healthcare data centers are experiencing changes as digitized IT infrastructure calls for flexible and agile data center networking solutions.

Traditionally, organizations use a scalable LAN to connect all the equipment in their data center. However, the general and rapid adoption of the cloud requires entities to consider solutions that will integrate better with the rest of the network.

According to Gartner's Magic Quadrant for Data Center Networking, data center networking supports network functions and connectivity within data centers. Organizations seek local connectivity within their data center and between servers and appliances.

Data center network technology solutions include, core/spine switches, server access switches, virtual switching, programable Ethernet fabrics, network automation, and network overlays along with other emerging approaches based on disaggregation of hardware from software components. 

“What is driving change in data center infrastructures is the need for improved operational agility, a key requirement as clients go through the digital transformation of their businesses,” said Gartner analysts. “Vendors are evolving the features of their solutions in response to this pressure.”

Gartner analysts predicted that organizations building hybrid cloud networks need to integrate their network solutions with cloud services.

The data center networking market grew by 13 percent last year, the report showed.

“10GbE was the most common connection for servers, and the average cost of a 10GbE port declined by 22 percent (from $214 to $165),” Gartner analysts found. “The 40GbE segment experienced strong revenue growth (71 percent) in 2016, but we expect this growth to shift to 50GbE and 100GbE in 2017, which will quickly replace 40GbE for new purchases.”

Gartner’s market research found that physical interfaces are common, with 10G remaining the most popular interface speed. However, new Ethernet connectivity speeds being introduced offer higher speeds including 25GbE, 50GbE, and 100GbE.

New generations of network switches are also emerging as options. These switches are capable of handling cloud-scale routing and better scalability and performance.

“These technologies have been initially introduced to fulfill the needs of hyperscale data centers, but vendors are also making them affordable for enterprises,” Gartner analysts explained. “Hence, performance is rarely an issue for new implementations, and speeds and feeds are less relevant as a buying criterion for the majority of enterprise clients, when compared to automation and ease of operations.”

Organizations are looking to replace legacy systems where needed to support emerging infrastructure technology, as well as easing operations and improving cost effective IT infrastructure. Entities are also interested in expanding existing network infrastructure to support new applications and services.

Gartner found that organizations are becoming more interested in virtual network deployments such as software-defined networking (SDN) because they can be deployed without investing in new hardware.

SDN uses virtualization to remove the intelligent management software from network hardware, creating a centralized, more intelligent, and easier managed network architecture.  

Although organizations express interest in these newer data center networking technologies, actual uptake and deployment of these solutions is relatively slow. Gartner analysts attributed the slow uptake to the importance and longevity of data center technology.

Business-critical data center networking equipment typically lasts anywhere from four to seven years. Many organizations are more comfortable sticking with a vendor or product line they are familiar with and trust rather than taking what they would consider a risk by committing to different type of solution.

Committing to a new solution can cause problems if the correct staff isn’t brought on to manage and monitor the solution, or other parts of the IT infrastructure are not compatible or ready to be upgraded.

Organizations often focus on several elements when looking to upgrade their data center network infrastructure including performance, form-factor, deployment options, supplier availability, and ease of management.

Organizations need to select a data center networking solution based on the technology they expect to use in the coming years. Entities using the cloud or considering further cloud deployments in the future need to be sure that their data center is ready to accept the connectivity. It is also important to ensure cloud options will be compatible with advanced technology that will be applied within the network solution’s lifecycle.