2012: The year of the Ethernet fabric: the factors driving network convergence. Johan Ragmo, Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise.

AuthorMarko, Kurt

Network convergence is increasingly becoming a reality for IT departments as IT leaders are looking to get the best performance and efficiency out of their network environments. Johan Ragmo, Director of Data Solutions for North Europe at Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise, explains the factors driving network convergence and examines why 2012 will be the year of the Ethernet fabric.

Network convergence--the merging of data and storage networks onto a common Ethernet infrastructure--has, in the past, often been a theoretical curiosity rather than deployment reality for a lot of IT departments.

However the benefits of convergence lie in simplicity and efficiency: having just one network to build, maintain and manage is ultimately better than two. Whilst one of the key drivers in moving to a converged network is cost, most organisations that are pursuing such technology are also doing so in order to improve network reliability, performance and agility.

Enterprises are increasingly having to provide high quality application delivery that can adjust according to the user, application and device in use across the enterprise. This means that they are starting to look to virtualised networks which can improve productivity and significantly increase network efficiency.

Ethernet enables Virtualisation

So there is a huge shift in the market towards virtualisation, and in order to enable this within the enterprise, IT departments must look at their fabric first.

They need a fabric which is designed to be resilient and easy to operate--a low-latency architecture, such as the Ethernet fabric. This way, data centre networks can adapt to the higher bandwidth requirements of media-rich applications such as video while supporting server and desktop virtualisation, and take the next important steps in providing true application fluency across the network.

According to a recent reports, server virtualisation has dominated the strategies of most IT organisations over the past few years and is particularly common among those organisations with converged network implementations or plans--it found that 79% of this group had already deployed virtual servers in production or in test labs.

And enabling a virtualised IT infrastructure requires a new approach to networking, which differs from the traditional strategy of simply throwing bandwidth at the problem. IT departments instead need to opt for a flatter, converged Ethernet fabric which can deal with the increasing array...

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