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Shedding the Silo Mentality

Over the years, the use of data center applications and services has curved upwards at an ever increasing rate. Traditional data center networking infrastructure models were built in "silos" of applications and services (referred to as tower, cage, or cell network architecture), designed to be stable and to not react quickly to changing business strategies and processes. It was easy: Just add more hardware to solve immediate tactical issues and to support the implementation of a new service or application.

The concept of being able to turn on additional services without performance degradation or service disruption, the need for high availability, and the goals for meeting different lines of business or new services requirements, all worked very well together in the data center model of the late nineties. Part of the reason traditional data center systems were able to deliver predictable results was that the number of services were themselves predictable and infrastructure resources were relatively inexpensive (e.g., one application per system was acceptable because resources were relatively cheap).

However, in the last couple of years this approach has led to rapid consumption of precious data center rack space, complicated wiring infrastructures, major network scaleability and stability issues, and complex security as organizations cope with continual threats.

As data center managers continued purchasing isolated infrastructure (routers, switches, firewalls, servers, storage, etc.) to scale their networks silos, they spent most of their time trying to reduce operation and capital expenditures. They also had to resolve operational issues and find fixes for the same problem over and over again. Data center complexity, stability issues, and high total cost of ownership (TCO) became the data center manager’s constant companion and worst nightmare.

At the end of the day, the increasing number of applications/services and the stringent security/management requirements of next-generation services, mean that data center managers cannot go on creating an isolated infrastructure.

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