This article originally appeared in the Sept. 2011 issue of INTERNET TELEPHONY
Over the last 15 years, IT has experienced a massive growth in data center sprawl. At the same time, the cost to manage these assets has climbed. Today about 60 percent of the cost is tied up in management expenditures (acquisition, management and power/cooling) compared to 60 percent being the purchase price of the server in 1996.
To address expense and complexity issues, a converged infrastructure approach to IT design, purchase and management is emerging. A converged infrastructure is a predesigned, integrated, and often prebuilt stack of compute, storage, network and management systems.
If you consider a unit of IT to be defined as so many services, delivered with so much capacity, provided with certain service levels, then an infrastructure stack of compute, storage and network elements can be quantified based upon IT production needs. Since the acquisition of IT assets is based on IT units, the risk of overbuilding server, storage or network environments is reduced because asset purchase is based upon service capacity needs. This means that IT can deliver services more efficiently, less expensively and with a reduced risk of interoperability issues.
Most organizations spend at least six months planning a new infrastructure environment. This includes selecting components, conducting internal meetings to ensure compatibility and coordinating budgets. A converged infrastructure stack also saves time by removing much of the design and planning effort associated with delivering new services.
A critical element of a converged infrastructure is its federated management, which auto discovers the compute, storage and network elements. It provides provisioning mechanisms for services and contains some degree of service-level controls. In an orchestrated fashion, services are defined, elements are provisioned and reserve capacity may be allocated. In most cases, service provisioning can be accomplished in minutes vs. the lengthy process of coordinating change management tasks between technology teams; this further reduces time to market for IT services.
It is these objectives – simplified management, reduced capital costs, less planning and design effort, and quicker provisioning – that are leading some consumers of IT to consider converged infrastructure for their organization.
Ron Jackson is a network product manager at Forsythe (www.forsythe.com).
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Edited by Stefania Viscusi