Network Communications News (NCN) September 2016 - Page 10

COLUMN talking point

Physical education

Michael O ’ Keeffe at Emerson Network Power shares his views on how innovation and optimisation have impacted the physical network over the past three decades .

Over the past 20-30 years , the

physical network infrastructure has undergone some significant changes to the point that we ’ ve almost come a full circle . In the years before connected devices , mobile phones and the Internet of Things ( IoT ) had become mainstream technology , we had the era of the mainframe .
Data was managed , processed and stored on one central system . Paper cards , tape , batch jobs and dumb terminals were all day-to-day necessities and in order to support this equipment , rigid guidelines about power , temperature and humidity had to be adhered to . Over a period of time , technology advanced and mini computers , what we now call servers , were introduced and we started to move towards a more distributed computing model . As technology progressed , dedicated equipment for different applications , company departments , storage and networking needs , meant more hardware in more places . Power and cooling requirements were still fairly rigid but rather than large central data centres with a central plant , we saw the advent of the computer room .
Now , as cloud computing and virtualised systems become increasingly common , we are moving to a more hybrid environment with large centralised data centres , edge computing ( to improve speed ) as well as significant requirements for data centres in highly regulated industries , although nowadays the terminology and technology is very different .
Our increasing reliance on cloud computing and online services , both as consumers and in our professional lives , puts a strain on the network and our data centres and has led to the emergence of edge computing technology as a form of alternative data centre technology . Edge computing moves key data processing and network services away from the central data centre out to the ‘ edge ’ of the network . As a physical system , this often consists of multiple small networks linking in to a large central network and data centre . This can result in an enhanced cloud computing experience for the consumer , creating better connectivity between the server and the devices at the edge of the network . However , this is just the latest trend in data centre networking and who ’ s to say that in a few years the network won ’ t be built differently ?
Equally , data centres themselves are starting to be constructed differently . Traditionally , data centre building has involved a ‘ bricks & mortar ’ approach , where data centres evolved organically . This often resulted in a mix of hardware from different providers , meaning a heterogeneous data centre ecosystem . It was also a lengthy process to build a data centre , requiring much planning and project management . Now , prefabricated , modular data centres are coming to the fore , enabling a more flexible and convenient planning and building process . The modules are designed and manufactured off site and then subsequently delivered and rapidly assembled on site . This approach means that overall deployment time can be reduced by up to 40 per cent . Furthermore , prefabricated data centres are now far beyond the old , simple industrial designs and have a much wider choice of features and appearance than the standard shipping containers . Modular units can now blend in with their surroundings just like bricks and mortar – a welcomed bonus for many .
Despite these various models , the physical needs of the data centre have remained the same in order to work at the optimum level . For example , the need to ensure critical power continuity has been consistent throughout the different eras . Similarly , keeping equipment within a set temperature range , albeit increasingly elevated , is fundamental to ensuring the high levels of availability demanded .
All of these changes mean that the future is just as unpredictable and poses a challenge to IT and data centre providers . We have had to design and build products , services and solutions for customers looking to invest in a physical infrastructure , which will last a minimum of 15 years , often much longer . This has to be accomplished , with the full knowledge that the technology inside the data centre will often become obsolete in only three years or less . In fact , in some cases , technology refreshes are happening in just 18 months , eg . social media applications , but for most infrastructure technology , such as power and cooling , it ’ s fortunately somewhat longer .
These rapid advances are taking place within the context of a physical infrastructure that is generally not designed for such accelerated changes . Indeed , the challenges of the future are only getting more diverse . We are now in an age where the IoT and demand for technology in almost all contexts will widen the gap between technology refreshes and what an ageing physical network infrastructure will support even more . IT decision makers therefore need to future proof their physical networks to ensure that their data centres are able to cope with these refreshes .
Trying to predict the future is always a thankless task and as recent technology advancements have shown , new technology can come on in leaps and bounds and in unexpected ways . We cannot guess what the data centre of 2030 might look like but we have two certainties to reassure us : data centres have a few key requirements , such as constant power and acceptable temperatures , and most importantly , existing equipment can be pushed further than the manufacturers may have envisioned originally .
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COLUMN talking point Physical education Michael O’Keeffe at Emerson Network Power shares his views on how innovation and optimisation have impacted the physical network over the past three decades. O ver the past 20-30 years, the physical network infrastructure has undergone some significant changes to the point that we’ve almost come a full circle. In the years before connected devices, mobile phones and the Internet of Things (IoT) had become mainstream technology, we had the era of the mainframe. Data was managed, processed and stored on one central system. Paper cards, tape, batch jobs and dumb terminals were all day-to-day necessities and in order to support this equipment, rigid guidelines about power, temperature and humidity had to be adhered to. Over a period of time, technology advanced and mini computers, what we now call servers, were introduced and we started to move towards a more distributed computing model. As technology progressed, dedicated equipment for different applications, company departments, storage and networking needs, meant more hardware in more places. Power and cooling requirements were still fairly rigid but rather than large central data centres with a central plant, we saw the advent of the computer room. Now, as cloud computing and virtualised systems become increasingly common, we are moving to a more hybri [\ۛY[]\H[[\Y]H[\YB\][ [\ݙHYY H\[\YۚYX[\]Z\[Y[܈]B[\[YHY[]Y[\Y\[YY^\H\Z[H[XH\\HY\[ \[ܙX\[[X[HۈY\][[ۛ[H\X\\ۜ[Y\[[\ٙ\[ۘ[]\]HZ[ۈH]ܚ˜[\]H[\[\YH[Y\[HوYH\][XH\HܛHو[\]]H]B[HXKYH\][›[ݙ\^H]H\[[]ܚ‚\X\]^HHH[[]B[H]H8&Yx&HوH]ܚ˂\H\X[\[K\ٝ[ۜ\›و][\HX[]ܚ[[[˜H\H[[]ܚ[]H[K\[\[[[[[YY\][^\Y[H܈Hۜ[Y\ܙX][]\ۛX]]H]Y[H\\[H]X\]HYBوH]ܚˈ]\\\\B]\[[]H[H]ܚ[˜[&\^H][H]YX\B]ܚ۸&]HZ[Y\[O‘\]X[K]H[\[\[\\B\[HۜXYY\[KY][ۘ[K]H[HZ[[\š[YH8&X [ܝ\&H\X \H]H[\]Yܙ[X[K\ٝ[\[Y[HZ^و\\BHY\[ݚY\YX[[B]\[[\]H[HX\[K]\[H[H\Z[B]H[K\]Z\[]X[[˜[ڙXX[Y[Y[ YXX]Y [[\]H[\\BZ[HܙK[X[H[ܙB^XH[۝[Y[[[[Z[[\ˈH[[\\B\YۙY[X[YX\Yٙ]B[[X\]Y[H[]\Y[\YH\[XYۈ]K\\XYX[]ݙ\[\[[YB[HYXYH\ \[ \\[ܙKYXX]Y]H[\˜\H\^[ۙH [\B[\X[\Yۜ[]HH]XY\XHوX]\\[\X\[B[H[\\[۝Z[\˂[[\[][[[]Z\\[[\ZHX[[ܝ\8$H[YY۝\܈X[K\]H\H\[\[[B\X[YYوH]H[H]B[XZ[YH[YH[ܙ\ܚ]H[][H][ ܈^[\KBYY[\Hܚ]X[\۝[Z]B\Y[ۜ\[Y]BY\[\\ˈ[Z[\KY\[™\]Z\Y[][H][\\]\B[K[Z][ܙX\[H[]]Y \‚[[Y[[[\[HY][›و]Z[X[]H[X[Y [و\H[\YX[]H]\H\\\[YXXH[\H[[HU[]H[BݚY\ˈH]HY\Yۈ[Z[X\X\[][ۜ™܈\Y\[[\[B\X[[\X\KX[\HZ[[][Hو MHYX\ٝ[]Xۙ\\\HX\\Y ]H[ۛYH]BXH[YHH]H[H[ٝ[XYH؜]H[ۛHYBYX\܈\ˈ[X [YH\\XHY\\\H\[[š[\ N[۝YˈX[YYXB\X][ۜ]܈[[\X\BXKX\\[[]8&\ܝ[][HY]]ۙ\\H\YY[\\HZ[œXH][H۝^وH\X[[\X\H]\[\[H\YۙY܈XX[\]Y[\˂[YY H[[\وB]\H\HۛH][[ܙH]\KH\H[[YH\HB[[[X[܈XH[[[[۝^[Y[B\]Y[XHY\\˜[][YZ[\X[]ܚš[\X\H[\ܝ][[ܙKUX\[ۈXZ\\YܙHYY™]\HوZ\\X[]ܚ™[\H]Z\]H[\\HXBH]\HY\\˂Z[YXH]\H\˜[^\H[\\[\X[XHY[[Y[]Hۋ]XH[YHۈ[X\˜[[[[[^XY^\˂H[Y\]H]H[Bو ZYZH]H]B\Z[Y\X\\H\Έ]B[\]HH]^H\]Z\[Y[X\ۜ[\[X\XB[\\]\\[[[\ܝ[K^\[\]Z\Y[[H\Y\\[HX[YX\\X^H]B[\[ۙYܚY[[KLL[[[ [ L ̌ M MN