Networking Solutions

Top-of-Rack

IBM System Networking Solutions

Top of Rack Business Value

According to ESG:

As the enterprise data center 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 center 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 center 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 virtualization management and storage over Ethernet.

Finally, top of rack switches should fit into the overall data center architecture. Since the accelerating adoption of server virtualization 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 recognize this trend and evaluate how they can integrate IBM offerings into their strategic data center plans. Source: Top of Rack Business Value, ESG, June 2010 (PDF, 159KB)

IBM 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 center architects can standardize 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 virtualized data centers.

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