On March 20, 2012, the Wikibon community gathered for a Peer Incite to discuss the impact of Intel’s new family of Xeon X5-2600 based servers on networking. Those of us who have been watching the adoption of 10Gb Ethernet have been waiting for this release, which could cause an inflection point in customer deployments.
As I discussed in an article about HP’s Gen8 server launch convergence is a topic that needs to be revisited as customers deploy these new solutions. On the networking side, 10Gb Ethernet presents the opportunity for a single network including storage traffic using either iSCSI, NAS and/or FCoE. There can be a long technical debate on choosing a protocol, but a key issue for customers is determining who owns a converged environment.
Both virtualization and network convergence break down the traditional silos of IT management. While there will always be a need for expertise on individual technology segments (networking, compute, storage), the forces of automation and solutions that blur the boundaries of management require coordination and cross-training of the workforce. There are huge impacts on the networking organization.
The flattening of the network to a fabric/mesh architecture will require significant changes from traditional three-tier environments; users should look to external professional services for deployment. Customer adoption of storage options for Ethernet is increasing and this requires careful consideration of the roles and boundaries of the storage and networking teams.
Both storage and networking administrators have risk avoidance as job #1; one worries about potential data loss or unavailability, while the other is on call to avoid network outages. iSCSI has had smooth adoption for mid-sized companies where both networking and storage administration are handled by the same person/team.
Storage administrators have handled FC and have very different best practices than the LAN/Ethernet team. With the latest generation of adapters, switches and storage management tools, customers have the capability to migrate as much (or as little) of an environment to converged FCoE solutions, while allowing the storage administration to be carved out logically. For many companies, a virtualization administrator handles the role of an IT generalist and can smooth over some of the old struggles between silos.
Action Item: As 10Gb Ethernet continues to move deeper into enterprise data centers, CIOs have a window of opportunity to reshape architectures and the teams that support the full environment. Neither the technology, nor the organizational adjustments need to be done in a single move; it should be a top priority to align resources in a more agile way that can be used at higher efficiencies.