Innovation

A New Generation of Networking Is Upon Us

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For decades, organizations have relied on the underlying network to link systems and facilitate the transfer of information. The network’s role as an agent for IT is without question, with virtually every job, transaction and operation depending on it. But today it is the network’s role as an agent for business innovation that is far more compelling.

The problem is, most networks are highly inefficient, poorly utilized and comprised of expensive, specialized appliances sized for peak capacity. They require a great deal of manual administration, with controls typically embedded in each hardware device.

Because each device is configured separately, the process of modifying or expanding the network for new capabilities, workloads of users is time consuming, personnel-intensive and costly. The ripple effect of these inefficiencies on the rest of the IT infrastructure can stifle development.

While most organizations cannot afford to wipe the slate clean and build a new network from scratch, new architectures and approaches are emerging that support the rapidly-evolving environment. For example, software defined networking (SDN) enables IT to easily build virtual networks over physical networking infrastructure, providing investment protection and smooth migration.

In addition to being able to build on top of infrastructure, SDN is changing the way networks are designed, managed and operated. But its capabilities and benefits increase substantially when it is integrated holistically with software defined compute and storage resources in a software defined environment (SDE).

Software defined environments represent the next generation of infrastructure automation and agility. With SDE, the IT infrastructure is completely programmable and application aware. Every process is driven by software, eliminating the need for manual administration. The infrastructure operates in a more adaptive manner, dynamically and intelligently responding to application requirements and adjusting to change as it happens.

SDE breaks down the server, storage and network silos that typically slow responsiveness. It works across domains to marry the best resources to each application workload, based on a variety of factors, including the characteristics of the application, resource availability and service-level policies. This holistic management of resources is one of the hallmarks of SDE.

Today, organizations are recognizing that a move to ITaaS will allow them to consume and acquire IT services as they are needed, thus avoiding the costs involved with having nonessential resources running at all times. With this comes a need to define which and when IT services are required by an application.

The bottom line: the network no longer has to stand in the way of a simpler, more adaptive, responsive infrastructure. SDN enables the realization of a fully orchestrated and managed IT environment.

Vice President, Network & Communication Services, IBM GTS

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