Cloudy with a Chance of Switches

Michael Vizard

As data center convergence continues to evolve, one of the things worth pondering is the impact this trend will have on cloud computing.

As previously noted, we're going to see an evolution of IT infrastructure that will replace the way we manage discrete units of servers, storage and switches with units of data center processing that will be based on integrated sets of IT infrastructure. Each of these discrete units of data center processing will then be managed holistically through a single pane of glass, versus having separate management tools for every component in the data center.

As cloud computing evolves alongside that trend, we'll see discrete units of data center processing capacity being used to drive specific application workloads. These application workloads, thanks to new virtualization technologies, will be highly mobile as IT organizations strive to provide highly flexible IT environments that can respond to the needs of the business in seconds and minutes rather than days or even weeks.

But in order to integrate all these discrete units of data centers across multiple clouds, we're going to need a new generation of intelligent switches. In the same way that switches from companies such as Brocade are used today to integrate servers, we're going to need high-performance switches or some equivalent capability to integrate various units of data center processing.

These switches will need to keep track of where various application workloads are running on top of virtual machines that will be literally strewn across multiple enterprise. As such, these next-generation switches will have to be not only a whole lot faster than the current generation of switches, they will have to be a whole lot smarter.

The deployment of these switches will probably take place at the edge of both public and private clouds to create the ultimate fabric of enterprise computing that is the real promise of cloud computing. In the meantime, it will be interesting to watch the race amongst the switching vendors to see who can get there first.

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