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Unified Physical Infrastructure Benefits for Mid-Market Businesses
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Unified Physical Infrastructure Feature Editorial

October 19, 2009

Unified Physical Infrastructure Benefits for Mid-Market Businesses

By Erik Linask, Group Editorial Director

Just as the entire communications landscape has evolved from the simple PSTN-based phone calls to multimedia interactions involving multiple forms of communication and collaboration at once, the data center has become much more than an information storage facility for businesses. Today’s data centers provide a foundation for successful business operations, and must be flexible and reliable enough to scale and evolve with changing demands on their resources.

Often, the focus of solutions that help data centers evolve to become more agile, more cost effective, and more sustainable revolve around large enterprises and their data centers – or even large data center outsourcing facilities – just as many vendors in the communications space focus their energies strictly on large enterprise needs. 
But, mid-market businesses have the same needs to drive operational efficiencies and remain flexible to meet their own changing needs. They also face the same challenges with their existing infrastructures in that their data infrastructures have traditionally been built using the same silo-based approach as larger data centers, and they now need to step away from that model to a more unified, more agile infrastructure that can be easily managed via a single platform, rather than the disparate systems they currently operate.
Growing mid-market business face the same challenges as any larger enterprise:
  • They are looking to leverage the same new breed of next generation technologies and applications to drive their businesses to new heights.
  • Those new applications, along with a more diverse user base require additional availability and flexibility to allow real-time access to a growing number of resources.
  • Mid-market businesses, while smaller, face the same multi-site challenges as large enterprises; a growing number of them are expanding either organically or through acquisition and must connect disparate sites efficiently.
  • All businesses face the need to conform to changing industry standards to ensure regulatory compliance as well as interoperability between systems.
  • There is a worldwide focus on creating eco-sustainable businesses.
  • All businesses, large and small, face the same rising energy costs, impacting their power and cooling expenses.
Considering these challenges, it’s easy to see that the same solutions that large data centers are applying to create smart data centers should prove equally effective to smaller businesses as well.
Take, for example, Thornhill, Ontario, Canada-based MMM Group, which grew both organically and through the acquisition of eight businesses over the course of five years. The overwhelming problem was a combination of disparate facilities, exasperated by the fact that each site had its own legacy technology in place, making it impossible to effectively manage and maintain the overall corporate infrastructure.
After suffering through a period during which it survived by using these legacy systems at each location, MMM Group decided it simply had to devise a plan to incorporate its facilities under one roof, with a single infrastructure that would not only deliver collaboration capabilities and business process improvements, but also help reduce operational costs through the deployment of a single network architecture and management platform. Thus evolved its plan for a new corporate headquarters facility.
Naturally, the new data center facility had certain requirements – much like any other new, next generation facilities being developed today. It needed powerful computing capacity along with the tightest security measures, as well as high availability and reliability to ensure engineers and scientists would have real-time access to network resources at all times. In addition, to cut operational costs, MMM Group was looking to increase operational efficiencies and become environmentally responsible. In fact, its goal was to build a LEED Gold certified facility that would be a model of eco-sustainability.
Of course, having grown significantly already, MMM Group also had to consider future growth, and needed solutions for its new facility that would scale easily and allow integration of new technology without significant time or expense.
These capabilities and features are precisely what Panduit seeks to deliver with its unified physical infrastructure model, which is based on the premise of a single, converge IP network and management system to enable simple connection, management, and automation of the various data center systems – communications, computing, power, control, and security – all integrated on a single, unified platform.
Panduit’s unified physical infrastructure solution is an end-to-end solution that includes copper and fiber cabling, cabinets and racks designed for thermal efficiency, and an unified design and management system that allows the critical data center systems to work collaboratively as a single system, increasing efficiency and driving down cost. In particular, its Net-Access cabinets are designed to optimize cooling, helping reduce energy costs by as much as 20-25 percent over traditional solutions.
In addition, the Net-Access line of cabinets has been designed to accommodate the Cisco (News - Alert) switches MMM Group deployed, thanks to significant R&D work between Panduit and Cisco to ensure compatibility of the cabinets with Cisco hardware designed specifically for mid-market enterprises. According to MMM Group, Panduit’s partnerships with Cisco and other industry leaders was one of the key benefits over other competing solutions.
“We were particularly impressed with the engineering details in Panduit’s cabinets with regard to cable management and thermal efficiency, which are essential for our Dell (News - Alert) servers and Cisco network switches,” said MMM Group partner Dan Butler.
Having completed its new headquarters facility, MMM Group found that, in addition to the cost savings and environmental benefits, the operational efficiencies of a single, unified physical infrastructure allowed it to manage the entire integrated data center with a staff of merely four. This was accomplished through simplified, centralized management platform that integrated its voice and data communications as well as the physical layer systems, including power, lighting, and security.
The benefits MMM Group has gained through its UPI-based solutions from Panduit and its partners has proven so successful, in fact, that MMM Group has set its sights on a second facility to provide full redundancy for disaster recovery, using the same model.
“Panduit provided a comprehensive, end-to-end data center solution that allowed us to converge voice, data, and security and building controls into a single network,” concluded Butler. “MMM Group views an optimized, Unified Physical Infrastructure as a strategic advantage for managing our business more effectively and better serving our customers now and into the future.”
MMM Group is but one example of how mid-market businesses are leveraging Panduit’s holistic approach to physical infrastructure to drive cost and operational efficiencies through the convergence and optimization of critical data center systems.
Its approach will allow large and small data centers to effectively manage the demands placed on their infrastructures by addressing both the logical and physical layers to increase agility, flexibility, and efficiency for more effective overall business operations.

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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