Given the surge in consumption of digital information over the last decade, it may come as no surprise that 2010 saw a 50% increase in the amount of data being transferred over the world’s networks.
More shocking is Gartner’s recent prediction that the amount of data running across networks may increase to 4400% of current levels by 2020. Clearly this places huge pressure on data centres and wider network infrastructure, which must grow and evolve if businesses are to weather the coming digital tsunami.
Surveying over one thousand large enterprises across eight countries, Gartner’s report found that system performance, scalability, network congestion and connectivity architecture were of key concern to businesses and organisations.
During the economic downturn of 2009-10, many CIOs were forced to implement cost-cutting measures in their enterprise ICT architecture. Having deferred or under-spent on infrastructure upgrades, many CIOs now face the issues of supporting faster data rates and improving efficiency with aging or underpowered infrastructure. Many large enterprises currently operate networks that were installed around 10 years ago and are attempting run applications that weren’t in existence when the network was designed.
Yet, because of this need for growth and evolution, enterprises still have the opportunity to implement solutions now that will help them steal a march on their competitors. Of the businesses analysed by Gartner, over 50% will expand their current data centres by the end of 2011 and more than 30% are building new data centres to combat and overcome the challenges ahead.
These companies should take advantage of this opportunity to deploy a physical layer infrastructure that can handle the deluge of data and improve system performance across the board. Businesses need to ensure that the foundations are in place to take advantage of next-generation services today.
Enterprise networks will need to become more intelligent, utilising the physical layer of a company’s network to provide more than just a reliable, high performance communications foundation. Intelligent Infrastructure solutions can provide insight into the physical layer, helping IT professionals and network managers to improve the security and efficiency of their network by quickly eliminating blind spots, detecting and locating network breaches, and constantly monitor all moves, adds or changes within the network.
These solutions also need to offer data centre managers interactive, real-time control over both copper and fibre connections. For example, they should be able to determine what and who is connected to the network and, by knowing what devices, are providing which services, can determine the proper routing for new connections.
The data centre manager simply indicates which service to provide to a port, and the system creates an electronic work order with all of the required changes. This is especially valuable for data centre applications, since adding a new server may require half a dozen or more connections. When a work order is issued, the system can track its routing and can alert the data centre manager if a job is not completed on schedule.
Organisations expanding or implementing new data centres should deploy pre-terminated solutions that will support 10, 40 and 100 Gb/s applications. These solutions can help data centres meet the bandwidth demands of new multi-core and virtualised servers and scale to meet changing application and architectural requirements. Utilising pre-terminated physical infrastructure solutions that can effortlessly support future data centre upgrades and expansion is also a smart financial move.
Such systems have – for the first time – allowed IT managers to demonstrate tangible financial benefits to organisations. They can now say with a degree of certainty: “if you invest in X, I will show you Y savings over Z years” Thus, IT managers have become more accountable, but are also able to show they can deliver greater value and prove that they are integral to every aspect of an organisation’s success.
In this context, CIOs should re-examine how infrastructure is being used and deployed in their organisations. They need to ask whether existing IT tools are sufficient to make workers more efficient, whether current investments are being optimised or whether there are alternative technologies that can produce worthwhile savings in either OpEx or CapEx. However, above all, CIOs must realise that whether they invest in IT infrastructure now will determine whether they sink or swim in the future.