Big data applications such as Hadoop, cloud applications such as Salesforce, and consumer applications such as NetFlix and YouTube are challenging the traditional datacentre infrastructure, according to Cisco.
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But software-defined networking (SDN) cannot address these challenges. Next-generation datacentres must be “application-centric” – meaning network, storage and servers must be optimised together to deliver what is required for a particular application – to be ready in the mobile-cloud-big data era.
The challenge with mobile, big data and cloud applications, is that “they need to be able to run across multiple servers and datacentres, be able to parallel process asynchronous tasks and be continually available, globally,” said Cisco CTO Padmasree Warrior on the company blog.
The applications “place new demands on the datacentre to deliver applications at scale, with the level of availability, quality of service and flexibility”, she added.
The shift to application-centric infrastructure will enable IT to deliver business applications to users with a simple operational model with scalable, secure infrastructure, cost-effectively.
But for this the datacentre must evolve where network, computing and storage operate as a single high-performance resource pool, Warrior explained.
The networking company unveiled its application centric infrastructure vision at the Cisco Live 2013 event in Orlando.
“Through our vision, we will help IT departments dramatically simplify how they provision their datacentre resources that are critical to the performance of their applications,” Warrior said.
To this effect, Cisco has added new features to its Unified Fabric offering to bring together LAN, SAN and converged networks. It has also added switches and F3 Series I/O modules that deliver 40G/100G scalability to its Nexus 7000 portfolio.
Software defined networking falling short
According to Cisco, while software-defined networking (SDN) services are designed to solve the datacentre challenges around big data and cloud applications, SDN falls short.
“SDN, to date, can’t meet the needs of applications because it mimics the old model of networking,” Warrior said.
“It doesn’t unify physical and virtual. It is focused on individual networking elements, and not on creating a configurable system of all IT resources.”
SDN cannot offer a dynamic centralised policy management because “it is constrained by an old proprietary-standards model,” she said.
Cisco’s newer products to facilitate an “application-centric” datacentre – including the new Nexus 7700 Series switches and the new F3 Series I/O modules – will become available from the second half of 2013.