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Unified Physical Infrastructure for Evolving Data Center Needs
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Smart Data Centers Feature Editorial

September 28, 2009

Unified Physical Infrastructure for Evolving Data Center Needs

By Erik Linask, Group Editorial Director

Data centers are mission critical data factories that need to be supported by scalable, reliable, and secure physical infrastructure. They are also becoming increasingly complex, as new consolidation and virtualization techniques are deployed, designed to optimize resource utilization across the data center. 

These new technologies, however, highlight the inefficiencies of the traditional silo-based approach to data center design and management of data centers, creating a void that Panduit it seeking to fill, along with the help of its many partners. Specifically, Panduit’s unified physical infrastructure vision seeks to unite the physical and logical systems within data centers, to lower risk and increase data center efficiency, security, and agility.
Panduit’s approach is driven by the relationship between enterprise requirements for more productive and cost efficient operations, and how data centers support those requirements.  In order to successfully build next generation data center environment, enterprises will need to overcome three key hurdles, according to Panduit’s director of solutions marketing Jeff Paliga, who recently participated in a videocast that also included speakers from Gartner, Cisco (News - Alert), CME Group, and PTS Consulting.
The three challenges include consolidation, which can mean lowering the number of data centers as well as the equipment within them; virtualization, which can help maximize the use of existing resources, in lieu of adding infrastructure; and automation, which according to Paliga, will follow consolidation and virtualization, because it requires full visibility into the complete infrastructure.
The trend within data center environments to address these issues will necessarily impact many of the pieces of the data center, from the applications to networking to storage to infrastructure. Applications are the key to today’s successful businesses, which require access to more information and resources in real-time than ever before, which directly impacts storage requirements. Of course, access to these assets relies on the capabilities of the network itself, and it all requires increased visibility into and management of the entire physical infrastructure, including power and cooling components and security systems.
In addition to supporting the business needs driving enterprise operations, the need for a unified physical infrastructure is only heightened by the fact the physical layer also can represent the greatest potential risk because it is more easily accessible than other elements. Panduit’s vision seeks to minimize risk by consolidating management and control of all infrastructure components under a single architecture, reducing the potential for error that results from multiple disparate management systems that aren’t tightly integrated, resulting in significantly more resources being required to operate the data center.
Naturally, the data center infrastructure is built upon technologies from a variety of sources, many of which Panduit works closely with to ensure integration of components from various vendors to ensure ease of integration and increased operational efficiency. 
Cisco, for instance, subscribes the same view, that “the interoperability between logical and physical systems is becoming very important” in order to create achieve a truly optimized next generation data center, according to Deepak Munjal, Senior Manager in Data Center Solutions at Cisco.
Cisco and Panduit have collaborated to develop best practices for building out more efficient data centers, including enhanced thermal efficiency, improved availability, and optimized high-density environments. The result has been the creation of data center designs that breed performance, flexibility, scalability, and reliability.
According to Munjal, Panduit played a pivotal role in the launch of Cisco’s Nexus 5000 and Nexus 7000 data center switches, ensuring they are well suited to support converged data center environments.
“Panduit’s vision and enablement for the unified physical infrastructure will allow our customers to reduce the risk of data center infrastructure by addressing problems early around availability, reliability, safety, security, and integration,” says Munjal.
Of course, addressing these concerns is designed to provide an immediate return, but as a core part of the enterprise business, the planning and development must also account for future needs. In fact, as CME Group’s associate director Mike Salvador notes in the mediacast, data centers should be designed to last more than a decade, as opposed to the three to five years many of their servers and switches can be expected to last. The key accomplishing that longevity is to develop a data center design that is flexible enough to adapt to new technology.
This requires a thorough understanding of the logical layer of the data center, which then allows for an efficient and scalable design of the supporting physical layer. The other, not insignificant benefit of building a physical infrastructure that accounts for the design of the logical layer is that the entire data center ecosystem can be built much more cost effectively, both in terms of capital investment and ongoing operational costs – a key principle behind Panduit’s UPI vision.
Because data centers are such a key part of a business, their planning and development must necessarily consider all the intricacies and potential pitfalls. By deploying a data center model that facilitates increased interoperability between the various data center systems, enterprises can ensure simplified management and increased efficiencies, as well as the flexibility to grow at will without having the restructure their entire infrastructures. Panduit’s own solutions and its collaboration with data center vendors make that vision a reality.
Click here to view the full videocast, and visit the Smart Data Centers community on TMCnet for more on how Panduit is approaching data center optimization.

Erik Linask (News - Alert) is Group Editorial Director of TMC, which brings news and compelling feature articles, podcasts, and videos to 2,000,000 visitors each month. To see more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Erik Linask

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