The Unified Data Center Fabric is Ready

Integrator´┐Żs Corner

The Unified Data Center Fabric is Ready

By TMCnet Special Guest
Ron Jackson, Product Manager, Forsythe
  |  September 01, 2010

This article originally appeared in the Sept. 2010 issue of INTERNET TELEPHONY

Through recent technology developments, broad manufacture support and ratification of protocols by standards bodies, it is clear now that we can consolidate our data and storage area networks into one unified data center fabric. Savings come from the ability to transport fiber channel traffic over new networking components that support lossless Ethernet. This functionality, fiber channel over Ethernet, means that enterprises can halve their SAN and network infrastructure costs by combining SAN and LAN functions into one network.

Components such as network switches, server adapters and cabling are consolidated; this also results in a significant decrease in space, power and cooling costs.

Has your organization developed a migration strategy for unified data center fabrics?

If you haven’t because you think the technology is too risky, be aware that FCOE uses the same fiber channel storage technology you currently use. With the standards completed and all manufacturers supporting the technology in a wholesale fashion, now is a good time to understand its economics and develop a risk adverse migration plan.

You may also think that your server manufacturer doesn’t support FCOE at this time. But chances are good that they do. Brocade, Cisco (News - Alert), Dell, Emulex, HP, IBM, Intel, QLogic and Sun recognize FCOE's major potential. Developing a migration strategy now will help your organization sift through the current vendor jockeying and provide the proper context for your organization’s migration plan.

Some organizations are also grappling with which infrastructure group should be chartered to own the planning. However, unified data center fabrics provide the opportunity for your infrastructure groups to collaborate in a way that benefits them all. Server, network and SAN personnel must coordinate to arrive at the architecture plan that best suits your organization. Be cognizant that biases may be present; delegation of this project should be given to someone who can rise above these biases.

There’s also that argument that you’re planning to plan, but just haven’t had the time to start. Begin with the financial modeling. A basic financial model that includes a migration strategy can be developed in about three months. Major infrastructure purchases now may preclude your ability to migrate to a unified data center fabric in the future.

Ron Jackson is a network product manager at Forsythe

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Edited by Stefania Viscusi