Data centres now have to deliver more. The pressure is on to drive new business models, create innovative solutions and deliver quality services without increasing costs. Facing a seemingly insatiable demand for data connectivity, combined with eroding profitability, data centres now need to derive more value from operational and planned network and data centre assets.
Margins for data transport are eroding in favour of cloud applications and there has recently been a move towards commoditising equipment in favour of creating a virtual network that can be reconfigured as necessary, in other words SDN. SDN networks still provide key network characteristics like reliable transport, protection under failure and network wide service functions, but this is presented as software that can efficiently accommodate rapid configuration.
Virtualisation and capacity management are essential if margins are to be maintained. New emerging business models, competition from Over-the-top providers and ongoing commoditisation of traditional transport services will all need to be supported by true virtualisation.
If systems are to orchestrate the management of capacity, then the definition of capacity must be presented to the orchestrator and support systems in the form of reusable templates. These templates need to be able to encode information about raw capacity while understanding and fully utilising its relationship to other capacity in the system. One of the most important aspects to this operation is the ability to orchestrate the management of capacity in real time.
Historically, capacity management has been low priority. The assumption has been that it is cheaper to add more capacity than manage available network capacity. When revenue was broadly proportional to capacity this may have been correct, but the situation has changed and network operators need to present innovative solutions to preserve profitability.
Operators of large data centres now need to effectively plan, optimise and orchestrate capacity to derive the best possible value from infrastructure assets, planning operational and capital expenditure and delivering the most effective capacity management from their networks. Central to this objective is effectively understanding the current and future demands on a network and enabling the network to optimise itself in real time to deliver to these demands.