On August 7, 2012, Luke Norris, CEO of Peak Colo, joined the Wikibon community to discuss how the company has designed and implemented a network for service-provider scalability. Peak Colo is a provider of Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and collocation services, and, as such, is also a huge consumer of IT hardware and software.
When operating at this scale, Peak Colo has the liberty of quickly adopting the latest advances in technology. For instance, unlike most private data centers Peak Colo has eliminated spinning disks in all servers, instead choosing solid state drives. Peak Colo has also completely eliminated Fibre Channel SANs, opting recently for a converged server/storage network leveraging a Brocade® VCS™ 10Gb Ethernet Fabric.
In order to drive maximum operational efficiency while supporting fine-grained deployments, rapid scalability, and high availability, Peak Colo implemented a fully virtualized infrastructure for servers, storage, and networking. In addition to making it more responsive to new and existing customer demand, this approach helps the company minimize hardware, software, staffing, and training expense. Norris believes most IAAS providers will move in this direction.
When asked what he would like to see suppliers do better, Norris made an important point: Unlike IaaS suppliers, operators of private data centers are taking a more measured approach to virtualization. At the same time, many will begin to migrate workloads to IaaS providers, as evidenced by the rapid growth of Peak Colo. The challenge for IaaS providers comes when customers want to span workloads across private data centers and public cloud platforms. This is most challenging when the private data center is not fully virtualized. Norris says virtualized IT components, such as servers, networking, primary storage, security, firewalls, backup, and archive, generally interoperate well, if all components are designed as virtualized resources. The same can not be said, when these resources must operate across both physical, dedicated components within the private data center and virtualized components from the IAAS provider.
Action Item: IaaS providers need partners who can help them bridge between physical environments at their customers’ private data centers and the fully-virtualized environments at the public cloud data centers. IT suppliers looking to differentiate their offerings to IaaS providers, should take the lead in this development.