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Today’s datacentres are not fit for the cloud, shows study

Archana Venkatraman

Many enterprises continue to depend significantly on antiquated datacentre infrastructures which are ill-equipped to serve user demands in the cloud and virtualisation era, a study has found.

A wide majority (91%) of IT decision-makers admitted that their current IT infrastructures still require substantial upgrades to meet the ever-changing and unique networking requirements created by virtualisation and cloud computing.

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This was despite three-quarters of respondents saying they have updated their IT infrastructures in the past three years.

The study of more than 1,750 IT decision-makers, commissioned by networking service provider Brocade and carried out by research firm Vanson Bourne, also found that multiple network failures each week was common among one-third of the respondents.

As today’s organisations interact with data and applications constantly, whether through video-conferencing or accessing database applications on remote devices, the datacentre network has never been placed under greater strain, according to Brocade.

But still, 61% of IT professionals admitted that their corporate networks are not fit for the cloud era, with 41% saying that network downtime has caused their business financial hardship either directly – through lost revenue or breached SLAs – or from their customers’ lack of confidence.

Datacentres lack network agility and performance 

“Many datacentres that exist today are based on 20-year-old technologies and they can no longer keep up with demand,” said Jason Nolet, vice-president datacentre switching and routing at Brocade.

“Virtualisation and cloud models require greater datacentre network agility and performance, as well as reduced operational cost and complexity.

“The findings clearly show that despite apparent investment in the past few years, most organisations are still ill-equipped for current business demands,” he added.

Datacentre hardware must be refreshed often to ensure that server utilisation is optimised and that workloads do not fail, experts have said.

Consulting engineer and datacentre energy expert Ian Bitterlin had previously argued that while web giants such as Facebook refresh server hardware every nine months, UK enterprises refresh theirs about every five years and the public sector organisations, on average, update their hardware once every eight or 10 years.

Infrastructure refresh at early stages

Some enterprises are beginning to deploy more scalable and resilient datacentre network infrastructures.

About 18% of IT decision-makers cited the use of fabric-based networks, while 51% said they are planning to roll out Ethernet fabrics next year to support their virtualisation strategies.

The study also revealed that some enterprises are looking at deploying software-defined networks (SDNs) by 2015 to increase productivity, deliver better access to real-time information and improve service delivery.

While SDN providers such as Brocade and Juniper Networks claim it offers benefits for the business, datacentre SDN is still in its infancy, according to experts.

A TechTarget study found that although 43% of respondents indicated that they plan to evaluate SDN technologies over the next 12 months, 78% believe SDN is not mature enough for their environments today.

Over two-thirds of respondents also expressed interest in on-demand datacentres – where physical and virtual networking elements are combined to provide the necessary capacity to deliver different applications rather than a standard capacity provided by legacy datacentre networks to deliver apps.

On-demand datacentre strategy provides a pragmatic route for the adoption of SDN, according to Brocade.


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