October 8, 2010

Data Center LAN Switching Prototype/'Mock' RFI

  • Jim Metzler, Co-Founder, Webtorials Analyst Division
This RFI has been created to gather information that will help educate IT organizations on the choices they have as they evolve their data center LANs. This RFI is based around a real enterprise IT organization that is referred to in this RFI as SmartCompany. The scope of the RFI, however, has been expanded somewhat from just the SmartCompany environment so that it also encompasses the needs of the vast majority of Global 2000 IT organizations.

The focus of this RFI is the data center LAN for SmartCompany. This includes all of the network elements (e.g., switches and routers) up to and including the NICs in the servers. It does not include networked storage devices, nor does it include separate devices intended to provide security; e.g., firewalls, IDS, IPS. It also does not include any separate optimization devices; e.g., WAN optimization controllers, application delivery controllers.

SmartCompany has one hundred and twenty five sites in the Americas, Europe, Asia, Japan, Africa and Australia. The major data centers are located in the US, with a data center located in Europe. There are several manufacturing sites in the Americas and Europe.

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Everything that we once know about the data center LAN is now in question.

For example, we used to design data center LANs around three tiers: access, distribution and core. We used protocols such as spanning tree to avoid loops and we kept the data center LAN separate from the SAN.

Now, due in part to the need to support server virtualization, reduce complexity, and cut costs, many IT organizations are redesigning their data center LANs. This comes at a time when there are a number of emerging technologies such as FCoE and a number of emerging standards such as TRILL. Another challenge is that companies such as Cisco and HP that once were close partners, no longer are.

To help IT organizations understand the changing data center LAN landscape, Mike Fratto of Network Computing and I created a mock RFI for data center LAN switching. It was based on one of my real customers and expanded a bit to cover the needs of the majority of Global 2000 companies.

By the way, Mike and Jim will cover their analysis of the RFI responses at Interop in NYC and invite you to come and participate in what will be some lively sessions.

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