Networking Solutions

Top-of-Rack

IBM System Networking Solutions

Top of Rack Business Value

According to ESG:

As the enterprise data centre has grown in size and importance, the minimum unit of deployment has moved from the individual server to the blade frame—and now to a whole rack. To support this move to rack-level deployment, pre-provisioned racks and scale-out networking architectures have become imperative. Top of rack network designs deliver a standard, flexible, and low cost way to incrementally scale out capacity and automate provisioning and change management. IBM System Networking is leading this transition to on-demand networking for meeting near-term deployment of public, and private, clouds.

Anyone considering building a new data centre without seriously assessing top of rack designs will simultaneously spend more than necessary on build-out and reduce operational flexibility. Installing, configuring, and managing data centre scale patch panels are highly complex tasks that require significant effort and attention to detail. Top of rack network designs deliver reduced risk of human error or electrical failure, higher velocity of change, and reduced cost.

When choosing top of rack switches, it is also important to assess software capabilities and not just hardware “speeds and feeds.” The best switches will feature easy-to-use software for configuration management, troubleshooting, and central command-and-control across multiple physical switches. Furthermore, software functionality should extend beyond basic Ethernet, toward a unified fabric. This means tight integration with server virtualisation management and storage over Ethernet.

Finally, top of rack switches should fit into the overall data centre architecture. Since the accelerating adoption of server virtualisation will continue to pull blade servers in its wake, a rack-based network architecture makes a lot of sense. Given this, IBM System Networking will likely become part of the fabric—one way or another. Smart IT executives will recognise this trend and evaluate how they can integrate IBM BNT offerings into their strategic data centre plans. Source: Top of Rack Business Value, ESG, June 2010 (PDF, 159KB)

IBM BNT RackSwitches can easily fit into existing blade server/rack environments — enabling networking bandwidth to be scaled cost effectively within a blade or rack cabinet, rather than externally. Using this approach, data centre architects can standardise on a unified and affordable rack-level network infrastructure to cost-effectively provision and scale out Web 2.0 environments, high-performance computing (HPC) clusters and virtualised data centres.

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