The changing look of tomorrows data centre
must evolve their data centre architectures to meet the business demands of
the future, writes Rakesh Singh
Enterprises today compete in a highly dynamic environment. They must boost
user productivity, encourage cost-efficient collaboration, and streamline existing
business processes by extending their applications to employees, partners, suppliers
and customers. They are leveraging Internet infrastructure to deliver remote
application access because of the enormous cost-cutting potential of using public
Today, Internet-based applications change everything about business. They enable
direct user access to information resources in place of the earlier dependence
on intermediaries. The benefits of Internet applications are clear.
Enterprises, when installing infrastructure to support these requirements, are
beginning to look at broader networking capabilities. They must ensure that
their applications and data are delivered with the desired end-user performance
and still maintain the highest level of protection.
Key requirements include a secure networking environment with high-performance
delivery of business-critical applications and data with minimal administration
and cost. This requires a serious look at the data centre infrastructure and
ways in which it should evolve.
Who Deploys The Data Centres?
Let us consider some segments that are using the Internet as a key transacting
medium, and their requirements of networking technology.
Driving the need for effective and secure data centres are the traditional enterprise
and the ISP. It is imperative that both enterprises and service providers enhance
the security and performance of business applications such as e-mail, CRM applications
and remote access. Enterprises have increasingly begun to use the Web to deliver
business-critical applications and data. This requires a secure data-sharing
environment where users have quick and continuous access to business applications
One of the most important segments today is the BPO practice. BPOs are growing
rapidly in India in terms of both size and sophistication. With India gaining
importance as a global BPO hub, it is necessary to have access to business-critical
information effortlessly and continuously.
Another is the banking and financial segment, whose trade and transactions over
the Web have to be secure and instant. This is an absolute requirement, with
online transactions in banking and finance fast gaining importance.
Then there are universities and educational institutions. The potential of deploying
the Web for various processes is immenseregistrations, result and score
sheets, personal data of students, and research information, all of which are
sensitive and confidential. It is therefore necessary to secure the transacting
environment while still ensuring a quick and easy response.
The government is a major segment. Various state governments have introduced
e-governance projects, attempting to use technology to provide easy access to
various schemes and benefits. As a result, the latest, authentic information
is accessible. Here too, to ensure the effectiveness and success of these programmes,
a secure and easily accessible online environment is necessary.
Yet another segment is the online reservation process, not only for travel but
more significantly for events, games, music shows, plays and concerts. The seamless
implementation and increased practice of buying tickets online should eliminate
time-consuming queues. This practice too warrants a secure networking environment
as confidentiality of details (like credit cards) need to be ensured while responding
to customer requests.
Data Centre Components
After analysing the networking needs of the data centres of each segment, we
can conclude that the three key components are:
- Tamper-proof security.
- Seamless accessibility of business applications
- Reduced network management complexity and cost.
What organisations need is an effective solution that helps them meet the overwhelming
demand for cost-effective, continuous, secure delivery of business-critical
applications over the Internet. They must deploy a single, unified solution,
replacing the medley of point products used.
The networking solution should offer the following essential elements to meet
- 100 percent secure delivery of all application requests
- Continuous application availability in the face
of attacks and legitimate surges
- Significant reduction in cost of operations.
All this has to be done while maintaining end-user responsiveness.
Service Delivery Standards
The application delivery system must enable enterprises, e-commerce vendors and service providers to optimise their networks for the continuous, secure delivery of all business-critical applications. It should overcome the inefficiencies of existing infrastructure products and Internet protocols, and offer application protection enabling secure delivery without compromise.
The system must provide employees, partners and customers access to applications
and content anytime, anywhere. The system should require no additional client
or server software, allowing remote users to gain access from any browser. Whether
at home or on the road, both via wireless LAN and from behind the firewall of
another company, remote users have secure and instant access to business- critical
applications and the content they need.
The system must ensure that all application content can be secured end-to-end
without degradation in end-user responsiveness.
By boosting the efficiency of existing site assets, the application delivery
system must reduce the number of servers and software licences required to serve
the same application to the existing user base and eliminate the need for point
products such as SSL accelerators, TCP offload devices or DoS attack protection
systems. With this kind of ideal system in place, excess servers can be redeployed
or eliminated altogether. In addition, network capacity can be expanded by making
more efficient use of connections and also by compressing data.
The application delivery system must significantly reduce bandwidth costs and
serve more data through the same network. Furthermore, central web logging considerably
streamlines the indispensable Web traffic log collection for demographic analysis
by eliminating file transfer and sort-merge steps in the process.
Essential performance functionality must be carefully woven into an integrated
platform to ensure that protection and security can be provided at wire speed
while enhancing the end-user experience.
Application Availability Concerns
Plans to deliver business-critical applications over the Internet should not
be derailed by concerns over application availability, security, cost of operations,
or poor performance. The new breed of network infrastructure systems should
combine the essential elements of application protection, security and optimisation
with robust traffic management functionality.
The result is that for the first time ever, enterprises, e-commerce
vendors and service providers can enable continuous secure delivery of business-critical
applications without any compromise, simultaneously reduce ongoing operational
and bandwidth costs, and simplify network management.
|Here's an account of how ShopNBC and Ticketmaster
upgraded their data centres and derived better business value.
For ShopNBC, the challenges were to improve customer
performance, increase infrastructure reliability, and improve security.
As a solution the company decided to perform SSL acceleration, TCP offload,
compression, DDoS, and consolidate logging.
For Ticketmaster, the challenge was that it was
not able to scale servers to meet ongoing demand for USA-wide box office
openings. There were many lost transactions as a result of this. As a
solution the company decided to perform TCP offload, Layer 7 switching,
and DDoS protection.
The results were:
- ROI in around nine months
- Improved application performanceconsistent 47 percent compression
- Reduced server load by over 33 percent
- Lower TCOreduced multiple WebTrends and SSL licences to one.
The author is General Manager,
Application Networking Group,