Organizations are ready to promote greater value with virtualization, however, data center complexity and costs are skyrocketing. Virtual machines have emerged as the new “atomic unit,” moving fluidly throughout the data center, promising reduced costs and increased flexibility.
Hindered by decreasing budgets and accidental architectures of the past, IT managers are struggling to realize the full potential of virtualization.
IT leaders must navigate a complex maze; combining diverse solutions and manual processes in the quest to cost effectively refresh aging technology, adhere to industry standards, and plan a safe path to the future.
Strategic architecture decisions made today will largely determine an organization’s competitive position for the next economic cycle.
As a result, core assumptions about infrastructure and data center strategies are shifting radically.
The key to a more efficient, simplified, and manageable data center lies with Cisco Unified Computing. This integrated architectural approach is built upon the virtual machine as the core element, uniting virtualized compute, network, and storage resources to reduce costs and increase agility. Cisco’s innovations are designed to unify data processes, simplify data center complexity, and amplify business results.
If you look at history, cabling infrastructure has generally been in place ahead of network adapters and switches. That was certainly the case when the market transitioned from 10/100 to 1Gigabit Ethernet. And BASE-T technologies using twisted-pair cables have been the volume leader during each transition.
Same thing is happening here today with 10GBASE-T, short for 10Gigabit Ethernet over twisted-pair cables. 10GBASE-T can utilize the widely deployed Cat6, 6A or 7 cable plants.
But wait, why would anyone need 10G in the data center?
So, lets take a closer at OTV and how it works. As a reminder, OTV is an NX-OS feature that allows us to extend Ethernet LANs between data centers. One of the nice things about OTV is that it is transport agnostic–the connectivity between data centers can be L2 based, L3 based, IP switched or label switch–pretty much anything that can transport IP.
OTV works by creating an OTV control plane through authenticated links between the Nexus 7000 switches at each of your data centers (called edge nodes in OTV parlance). You can then “route” your LAN traffic by encapsulating it and routing it through this IP infrastructure. Routing of the traffic is determined by associating a MAC address with a next-hop IP address. The process is fully dynamic, so there is no need to establish and manage tunnels and virtual wires. This approach certainly simplifies management and administration over existing approaches, but it also allows you to take full advantage of your IP core such as optimal routing and features such as load balancing, multicast traffic replication, and fast failover.
In their Q4 2009 WAVE report Forrester recognized Cisco WAAS as a market leader in WAN optimization in their comparison of the top 8 vendors, considering criteria such as the offering, strategy, market presence, and technology.
Forrester says that WAN optimization is increasing in importance to IT organizations and that business issues such as consolidating branch office servers and rolling out new collaborative applications are driving its adoption. This is because companies rely on the WAN for delivery of their business-critical services, but the WAN suffers from poor performance because of latency over distance.
Forrester advises that WAN optimization technology plays a critical role in improving application performance by using techniques such as caching, protocol optimization, compression, traffic management and quality of service (QoS), to increase effective throughput and mitigate latency, while providing visibility into the traffic mix.
One of the ongoing challenges for our customers is finding ways to easily interconnect their data centers. Traditional drivers for this have been business continuance and the desire to load balance and make better use of underutilized resources. While these continue to be important, because of the spread of server virtualization, we also see emerging drivers around supporting inter-data center workload mobility and cloud import/export of workloads.
At this point, you may be thinking “Omar, there are already ways to do this, some even offered by Cisco–some you have have blogged about!” Yes, dear reader, its true, but with the release of a new NX-OS feature called Overlay Transport Virtualization (OTV) on our Nexus 7000, we expect to make connection your data centers simpler while at the same time, making those connections more intelligent and better suited to the emerging demands on a data center interconnect solutions.
The cool, unique thing about our OTV solution is that it works with your existing transport. Essentially, OTV provides Ethernet LAN extension and “MAC routing” on top of the existing layer 3 (i.e. IP) infrastructure. Here is a quick (~ 3 min) video that goes over the basics of the OTV solution.