The Emerging Corporate Data Center Challenge: How to Embrace the Service Provider Model

The IT world is moving toward a service delivery model.good customer said something recently that really got my attention:

IT infrastructure is moving quickly toward becoming delivered through a service model. Machines are becoming virtual running in secure data centers on large, partitionable machines.  Self-provisioned virtual IT resources are the key to success for a service model, which requires all aspects of the physical hardware to be abstracted or partitioned with permissions and given only to a tenant of the service.

– Eric Miller, CEO, Genesis Hosting

That is certainly a tall order, but underpinning this direction is the value to both end users and IT infrastructure providers of the self-service model of operations. The commercial service provider market, for example, Amazon S3, has used this model to successfully enable thousands upon thousands of organizations to buy IT services whether server, storage or networking on a “per drink” basis.

As end user organizations consider what the right solution is for them, I would like to offer a few questions to help identify the best means by which long term value and resiliency can be achieved:

·         Which architecture best supports these solutions?

·         What are the implications of self-service for product features and function?

·         What are the technical and management implications of a self-service based hosting model wherein the IaaS provider performs all           provisioning, configuration and management of virtualized IT resources?

A key driver in the on-going transformation of IT infrastructure is how to maintain resiliency in the face of the broad range of customers that need to be  supported while ensuring long-term cost efficiency.

OpenFlow Happenings: join us to learn about this transformative technology

 

Awareness of the benefits of OpenFlow continues to grow, and the ProgrammableFlow team will be making a number of appearances in the next few weeks to participate in the discussion.  We would love to have you join us.

First off, take a moment to follow our new Twitter handle at www.twitter.com/NEC_OpenFlow.

Samrat GangulyLive this week from where it all began – the Clean Slate Program, in conjunction with the Open Networking Foundation (ONF) hosted the Open Networking Summit 2011, October 17-19 at Stanford.  The sold-out program featured tutorials on OpenFlow/SDN for engineers, and NEC’s Chief Network Architect, Samrat Ganguly, was a featured speaker on Tuesday, from 2 p.m. to 3:30pm, on the topic of “Redefining Network Virtualization for Cloud and Datacenter Networks with OpenFlow”.  NEC and IBM demonstrated how OpenFlow can be used to build high performance, open, data center fabrics.  The ProgrammableFlow switch and controller were featured in a number of other demonstrations.

October 25 is the OpenFlow Symposium, streamed live via Packet Pushers from the Doubletree Hotel in Silicon Valley.  In addition to NEC, panelists include Google, Yahoo, Cisco, Big Switch and Juniper.  From 10 a.m. – 12a.m. will be a business discussion around practical and applied OpenFlow Networks, and then from 2 p.m. – 4 p.m. will be a technical deep dive, again with a representative panel including NEC.   Both sessions will be archived at www.packetpushers.com.  This event is also sold out.

 

On October 27th, NEC will be hosting a dozen bloggers at our Santa Clara facility.  We’ll be reporting more later on this, and for sure you will be reading about us in the days to come.   Check out this link for Tech Field Day, which will be filmed live, and tweeted at length—you may want to add some of these Twitter feeds to your Follow list: http://techfieldday.com/.

Finally, I want to tell you about the Advanced TCA Summit, a free OpenFlow seminar planned for Tuesday, November 1 from 8:30-11:20 a.m., also at the San Jose DoubleTreee.  Register at https://www.expotracshows.com/advancedtca/2011 and use the code OPENFLOW.  Chaired by Craig Matsumoto of Light Reading, this free seminar will feature speakers from BigSwitch Networks, Broadcom, and NEC.  I will be addressing “Network Scale Out Using OpenFlow:  the Rise of the Superswitch” from 10:30 a.m. – 11a.m.

 

Food for Thought: Top Considerations Before Moving to the Cloud

nec-cloud-considerations-privacy-securityWe’ve all become attached to on-prem computing when it comes to our individual and business needs, so the abundance of skepticism around the cloud computing concept is understandable. The premise behind cloud computing is to “rent” space, and only pay for what you need, keeping cost and energy consumption at bay. Cloud offers benefits for both the individual and the organization, so is switching to cloud the right move for your organization? Of course, you’ll determine which of the following is top priority based on your business, but check this list out for a few things to consider when making your decision:

1) Demand & Growth: Is your organization’s growth sporadic or predictable? Assess your organization’s need before moving to cloud. Cloud favors scalable and on-demand deployments

The Harvard Business review cites research from by Gartner Vice President Mark McDonald, noting that the percentage of CIOs interested in cloud computing has grown considerably, from 5% in 2009 to 37% in early 2011. Management in larger companies have been more likely to name cloud as a “top five” IT priority. Assess your business needs and then supplement with technology to make your business the best it can be.

2) Data Privacy & Security: Is your organization one with rigid security requirements? Clouds were initially designed for individual or small group use, not larger organizations. Whether you need a system that will keep “intruders” out, or one that will control who has access within your company, Cloud computing vendors have taken this into consideration and implemented technologies to better protect devices. Bottom line: evaluate your organization’s security requirements when considering how cloud will accommodate you best.

3) Reliability and Bandwidth: Arguments have been raised questioning reliability of the cloud infrastructure versus an on-prem infrastructure. Regardless of which Cloud technology you choose to adopt, no connectivity makes cloud as useful as not having it at all.

4) Users base (Localized vs. Globally Dispersed):
Cloud enables collaboration between mobile users with ease, more so than on-prem computing. But if the majority of your users are localized, is moving to cloud the best decision for your organization?

5) Performance: While some of the greatest accomplishments achieved through Cloud technology is a result of its collaboration capabilities, look up-front at the important pieces that contribute to the performance for your organization. Will switching to cloud directly support your business operation? Will it enable your business to effectively generate revenue? Keep in mind that Cloud is just one component; application use and availability, along with bandwidth should be taken into consideration for your deployment.

Cloud computing gives you the opportunity to continue to compete effectively without owning all of the technology you use, and while the concept is nothing new, it forces the difficult consideration of consolidating your entire business framework in order to move applications like email, CRM, or storage to the cloud. It certainly merits a deeper look into the considerations above, particularly when you consider the added possibility of moving real-time applications like voice and unified communications to the cloud. Now that’s “food for thought.”

Enterprise Communications in Virtualized Environments

phones_cloudWith all the talk of cloud computing and software as a service of late, many IT organizations are wondering how communications can be deployed realistically in these models.  This discussion inevitably leads to the topic of virtualization.

Among the highest-impact issues in IT today, virtualization allows multiple applications to run on virtual machines within one or more physical host servers. A hypervisor – from vendors such as VMware, Microsoft or others – allocates server resources for all virtual machines running on it. Virtualization has long been used in data centers to consolidate the number of physical servers, better utilize existing hardware, and improve application availability.

 

Centralizing applications in data centers and leveraging virtualization technology to minimize associated costs and complexities has for several years been a trend among IT departments of both enterprises and mid-sized organizations. Adding communications to virtualized environments brings complexity and special requirements that not every enterprise communications provider can deliver today.

NEC has verified that UNIVERGE Sphericall, the pure software-based communications platform, runs in both VMware® ESXi and Microsoft® Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 virtualized environments to deliver voice and unified communications services in various cloud and hosted scenarios.

Some potential use cases for software-based communications in virtualization include:

  • Customers with virtualization initiatives to reduce data center costs and server “sprawl”
  • Disaster recovery scenarios running virtualized instances in carrier hosted environment, or private cloud infrastructure.
  • Implementing additional media service resources such as voicemail, auto attendant, music-on-hold and/or call recording using Sphericall virtualization
  • Hosted provider scaling a single, large server with multiple instances of Sphericall where each instance is tied to a particular customer site
  • Small or remote offices desiring to hosted multiple applications on a single machine

NEC and ESnet Present “OpenFlow with OSCARS” at Joint Techs 2011 Event

NEC and ESnet demonstrated network virtualization across wide-area networks at Joint Techs.Samrat Ganguly, Senior Systems Architect, for NEC Corporation of America (NEC) paired off this week with Inder Monga from ESnetat Joint Techs 2011 in Fairbanks, Alaskato present “OpenFlow with OSCARS:  Bridging the gap between campus, data centers and the WAN.” They were demonstrating for the first time end-to-end network virtualization across both LANs and multiple WANs, with the ability to program the network via ProgrammableFlow.  This has implications for both the researchers attending Internet2 Joint Techs, and their ability to connect and collaborate all the way through their networks, as well as enterprises implementing clouds across multiple data center sites in delivering IT services rapidly to their lines of business.

If you aren’t familiar with ESnet, it stands for the Energy Sciences Network, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science.  They provide high bandwidth connections that link scientists at national laboratories, universities and other research institutions, as they work together to solve the world’s biggest scientific problems.  Because of our OpenFlow expertise and capabilities, and dating back to NEC’s initial involvement on the Clean Slateprogram at Stanford University, we were invited to work with ESnet on this exciting virtualization and automation implementation.

Even though science networking uses network virtualization today, mismatches still exist between campus networks, HPC data centers and R&E networks.   These typically require manual intervention and limit network control and flexibility.   The presentation from Ganguly and Monga demonstrated end-to-end network virtualization and flow management, making networks much easier to manage and control.

In my experience, enterprise customers need to reduce the time required for network deployment, reduce operational complexity, and enable network level automation in supporting diverse application requirements.  Now, with the open source toolkit supplied by ESnet’s On-Demand Secure Circuits and Advance Reservation System (OSCARS), and ProgrammableFlow, together they will provide the automation and secure network service provisioning that scientists and industry need to maximize the full potential of cloud computing.

Networking researchers and administrators can access OpenFlow’s capabilities on ESnet’s Advanced Networking Initiative (ANI) testbed, using NEC ProgrammableFlow switches to test out advanced concepts in networking.  More information can be found at https://sites.google.com/a/lbl.gov/ani-testbed.   The media advisory about Ganguly’s presentation is at www.necam.com/pflow/press.ctm.

And for those of you who missed our press release announcing ProgrammableFlowat Interop, learn more about our award-winning Network platform based on OpenFlow at NEC website, or call today 866-632-3226 to set up at test of ProgrammableFlow at your own installation.