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GCN : March 2013
GCN MARCH 2013 • GCN.COM 15 UCS blade servers and Cisco Nexus switch- es, NetApp's unified storage system and VMware virtualization technology. These integrated systems are built to host multiple or specific applications. The goal is to simplify data centers by integrat- ing all essential IT resources, making it easier for administrators to put their appli- cations onto the infrastructure, Kent said. THE DATA LAYER Converged infrastructure focuses on the virtualization of data, explained Steve Fritzinger, virtualization alliance manager for NetApp U.S. Public Sector. Users have the virtual machines and blade servers, but not the whole deployment of the appli- cation. A file might live on a specific disk while a particular database runs on a spe- cific shelf of disk drives, he said. "So how do I virtualize my data in the context of this greater virtualized environ- ment I've been building over the last four years? That is what integrated infrastruc- ture is all about," Fritzinger said. During the first wave of server consoli- dation, IT managers were looking to ease the environmental impact on the data cen- ter by reducing spending on power and cooling, Fritzinger said. At the same time, they were looking to recover capacity that could be used to deploy new services, much like what Avondale did. This type of consolidation is still ongo- ing in municipalities, universities and even in the federal government with the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative, Fritz- inger said. However, since many govern- ment agency managers now are comfort- able running mission-critical systems on virtual machines, they are thinking about deploying "true" cloud solutions or on- premise clouds that can hook into public clouds during workload surges or for sea- sonal processing. Some are even consider- ing the moving of disaster recovery into the public cloud, Fritzinger said. CITIES AS SERVICE PROVIDERS Other government agencies are extending their integrated infrastructures to deliver data center and IT services to multiple com- munities. For example, Melrose, Mass., a small city seven miles north of Boston with a population of 28,150, is breaking new ground as an IT service provider. FlexPod is the underlying technology that allows Melrose's IT team to provide services to 18 sites within the city, includ- ing a variety of agencies such as the pub- lic school system and the police and fire departments. Prior to the implementation of FlexPod, each school had its own data center. By implementing FlexPod, the city consolidated the schools' entire infrastruc- ture into a single data center. Now the IT department is positioned to offer data cen- ter and IT services to other Massachusetts cities and towns via a secure, multi-tenant private cloud. Brocade, a provider of network solutions to the federal government, is also trying to bring simplicity to the data center and re- ducing the need for human intervention. "The most complicated network in the world is the network that serves the U.S. government," with good reason, said An- thony Robbins, Brocade's vice president of federal. But consider this, he said: Eighty percent of network issues are related to hu- man intervention, 70 percent of the cost of the government's network infrastructure is for service on the network, and more than 70 percent of the government's money goes to maintain legacy infrastructure. So Brocade has focused on offering an Ethernet fabric, a network that is automati- cally able to manage itself and can scale up or down depending on demand. "We basically flatten the network, make it simpler," Robbins said. "If it is simpler, it requires less people. If it requires less people then the total cost [of the network is less] and all that improves business per- formance." Agency managers should think more about how to manage these converged in- frastructures that are more software-con- trolled, said Paul Christman, vice president of public sector for Dell Software. They most likely will need a new generation of tools to control and manage software-driv- en infrastructures, he added. Despite these technology trends, mov- ing to an integrated infrastructure is not the end game or ultimate goal, NetApp's Fritzinger noted. An agency's mission or a city's need to cut costs is driving the move. Managers nowadays want to apply proven best practices, not reinvent the wheel when applying new technology, he said. • Converged data center infrastructures con- sist of blade servers, networking, storage, virtualization technology and automation tools unified on a single architecture. Moving to these new integrated environments is a process that won't happen overnight. Here are steps Cisco recommends to make the migration easier. Build an inventory of your IT assets and then consolidate resources. Start to virtualize applications and systems. You have to understand your applications and determine what can be virtualized, according to Cisco's Dan Kent. If they can't, what is the next step? Do you keep it on your own hardware plat- forms or not? Consolidate even more of your assets, specifically around servers and networks. Automate processes. This is probably the hardest step, Kent says. You want to have standardization. For example, there has to be a standard approach to setting up a Microsoft Exchange Server, which might involve a firewall, Ethernet port, server load balancer and other technology. You can't customize the process every time di erent users ask for an Exchange Server. Processes for all of these systems have to be mapped into an automated software configuration tool. Building a private cloud is the final stage and the converged infrastruc- ture becomes an underlying, critical element to that private cloud. --- Rutrell Yasin 1 2 5 STEPS TOWARD BUILDING A SECURE PRIVATE CLOUD 3 4 5