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Flexibility Key To Next-Gen Networks

Enterprises have entered into a state of "data center networking discontinuity," concludes a new report from the Enterprise Strategy Group. Data centers are being built at massive scales to achieve consolidation and prepare for cloud computing, but legacy data center networking equipment, operations processes, and management tools can no longer meet business and IT requirements.

"Data center networking discontinuity is a gap that's evolved between where data center technology is going and what the network is capable of," explains Jon Oltsik, senior principal analyst, ESG, in Milford, Mass. "Our research points to the fact that 63% of enterprises--defined as organizations with 1,000 employees or more-- have either done data center consolidation projects or are doing so."

Typically, that means organizations are eliminating anywhere between 25% and 50% of their existing data center population.

"They build these massive data centers with multiple tenants. So business units that used to own their own data centers now live in cooperative data centers," he says. "At the same time, they're using more virtualization technology, they're adopting more Web applications. All of these changes are happening in the way you populate data centers and in the way you write applications."

However, these evolving data centers remain reliant upon standard Ethernet switches and IP routers that were built for a different level of scale and connectivity.

"This discontinuity is causing a lot of operations problems. Specifically, there are far too many manual processes to provision and configure a network," he continued. "It's difficult to manage a network once it is configured. It's difficult to secure a network because workloads are more distributed and they're moving around due to virtualization and the cloud."

Companies are adjusting to this reality by way of buying new networking technologies to try to alleviate some of these problems, but Oltsik suggests that was merely a temporary solution.

"We believe ultimately there's a whole new architecture involved that's not just an incremental fix/what's broken approach. It's a rearchitect approach that will win out."

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