Virtualisation has revolutionised the way organisations run server applications in the data centre. It allows organisations to migrate dozens of servers from a physical environment to a virtual private cloud to boost business continuity, for example, or to support disaster recovery, in the case of the emergency services. This move would have been cost prohibitive in a physical IT environment.
But there is a flip side: virtualisation can also be a major culprit in putting additional stress on the network – networks that are already under immense pressure from growing numbers of real-time applications and mobile devices. According to Gartner, between 2009 and 2010, the number of virtual machines in corporate data centres increased more than 50 percent.
So while many organisations – of all sizes - are reaping benefits from virtualisation in terms of lower capital expenditure, decreased operational costs, reduced administrative overheads, greater up-time, higher availability and superior disaster recovery...there is a flip side.
It is critical that the network, including the data centre, can accommodate and dynamically adapt to the increasingly demanding workload by building the model that Gartner calls “application fluency”.
With virtualisation, companies are already taking the initial steps toward application fluency by looking to deploy a next-generation data centre switching network, one that is more agile and adaptable to the changing needs of the enterprise. Yet they are being held back because the virtual machine (VM) movement requires manual intervention to modify network provisioning. Dealing with this is the driver towards application fluency.
Such network virtualisation enables the data centre switching network to route traffic based on the optimal path in the network, and can deliver a switching fabric with extremely low-latency. Equally important, a true data centre fabric will automatically adapt to VM movement to relieve IT of the burden of manually provisioning the network. This way, data centre networks can adapt to the higher bandwidth requirements of media-rich applications such as video while supporting server and desktop virtualisation, and take the next important steps in providing true application fluency across the network.
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