Deciding to go with a Unified Data Center (UDC) would seem to be the easiest decision ever. UDC uses people, process, and technology to treat the information overload faced by many organizations. However, even easy decisions need to be thought through – especially ones as big as this. Have you thoroughly examined the underlying strategy to determine if it will work best within your business?
First you need to familiarize yourself with two key concepts of UDC: Service profiles and virtualized I/O. Service profiles are completely configured through software and provide definitions of a server and its LAN and SAN network connectivity. It defines a single server along with its storage and networking characteristics. It is independent from any specific hardware and is coupled with virtualized IOs, making it easy for profiles to be reconfigured and transferred between blades.
Virtualized I/O simplifies and reduces the number of adapters and connecters. Servers use many I/O adapters for Ethernet and SAN connections. Along with those are the internal Ethernet and Fiber Channel switches for aggregating these connections used by blade systems. By contrast, UDC consolidates all of this virtually. It puts interfaces on the server blades then passes them straight through the chassis via pass-through modules. These adapters are then configured so the operating system sees them as virtual Ethernet, iSCSI, or Fiber Channel over Ethernet adapters.
With that, we can take look at some of the pros and cons of UDC to make sure you’re asking the right questions and forming realistic expectations.
Learning Curve: Going from your old way to UDC will mean rethinking how you have done things and learning new ways of doing them. Expect significant instruction, practice, and in-the-field fine-tuning.
Cost: Re-inventing your data center won’t be cheap. Carefully examine the ROI versus the initial cost to determine whether it makes sense for your organization.
Existing Infrastructure Support: The best UDC solutions are based on an open architecture and can easily integrate with existing management systems and tools.
Single Vendor: Does buying all the gear you need for your data center from one vendor mean you are now locked in to that vendor? It shouldn’t. While there will always be some things you will want to get from your original vendor, a state of the art solution will allow you use the vendors you choose.
Increased Server Efficiency: With more memory for server platforms you can increase the virtual servers hosted on each physical server.
Ease of Management: The best UDC solutions allow you to manage your entire infrastructure as a single entity. Managers of storage, networking, and servers can easily collaborate to define service profiles for applications.
Savings: UDC usually takes up less space and requires less to be spent on utilities than traditional data centers.
Less Time Spent on Maintenance: A UDC streamlines data center resources, scales service delivery, and sharply reduces hardware setup, all of which will radically cut the amount of time and resources spent on infrastructure maintenance.
Get Bigger but Not More Complex: With your computing, networking, storage access, and virtualization all unified in one cohesive platform, you can scale up modularly from one server to thousands without adding new complexity in management.
Performance Advantage: Integrated and enhanced storage and network I/O provides significant performance boost, especially in large data center deployments.
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