The argument for a single network has always been a simple one – if there is only one network (or at least one type of network), the sparing, training, and knowledge set becomes much simpler. While there are strong historical reasons for deploying separate networks (including FC for storage and InfiniBand for high performance clusters), today organizational boundaries (OSI level 8 – politics) rather than network limitations are increasingly likely to be the reason that companies do not adopt convergence.
IaaS provider Peak Colo undertook an 18-month transition from a mix of FC and 1Gb Ethernet to a completely 10Gb Ethernet environment utilizing NAS (90%) and iSCSI (10%). CEO Luke Norris stated that Peak Colo’s infrastructure teams are focused on application requirements rather than silo preservation. Users can choose from multiple paths toward convergence. 10Gb Ethernet deployments of NFS, iSCSI, or FCoE can all provide high performance for a broad spectrum of applications. Peak Colo found that Brocade’s Ethernet solutions provided the reliability and many of the same features and management capabilities of a FC SAN. While logical divisions of the physical network may continue, there is no need to maintain separate physical networks. For customers that need a more gradual path, many adapters and even some switches deliver FC and Ethernet as a Single Solution Set.
Virtual environments are best when paired with a homogenous converged network, where the mobility of workloads should not be slowed or limited by interfaces between different networking technologies in the physical environment. Companies that get rid of siloed networks will save on infrastructure costs while improving time to deployment, availability, and performance. Peak Colo’s adoption of a single network is also helping to move it towards managing the environment with a single pane of glass. It typically uses VMware vCloud Director and is working on a proprietary orchestration solution.
Action Item: IT organizations need to be driven by applications and requirements rather than silos. Care must be taken in readjusting architectures and organizations to focus on the real value of IT. CIOs will need to determine the pace of change that makes sense for their companies, but those who fail to move rapidly will be left with uncompetitive economics of infrastructure and workforce.