Standardization: second step to utility

* Standardizing across data center areas

On the road to a flexible data center, there are four major steps: consolidation, standardization, virtualization and utility. In this article, we will examine the challenges and implications of embarking on the second step: standardization.


Standardize storage, using technologies such as SAN and NAS gateways. Instead of deploying separate SAN and NAS islands, you can use NAS gateways to translate SAN blocks into file-based virtual storage. Create a team dedicated to storage, across all business units. The storage team can develop a roadmap for migrating existing storage “islands” into standardized SAN-based pools.

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Create a dedicated team for managing computing resources. Standardize on a few basic architectures for delivering applications. Evaluate your existing enterprise applications and develop a roadmap for standardization including migration to Web-based application delivery. Using an open source operating system such as Linux can further reduce costs and complexity, especially if combined with an automated provisioning system:


Migrate your frame relay, ATM and other WAN technologies to MPLS. Use of MPLS will allow you to run converged data, including voice and video, with QoS and faster failover through traffic engineering.


Security standardization is perhaps the hardest aspect of moving to a utility model of your data center. Security technologies are very fragmented and offer very little interoperability. A fundamental shift in your strategic thinking is necessary to succeed: Think of security as a set of protocols instead of a set of devices. Leverage syslog, SNMP and other protocols for aggregation of security events. Standardize authentication and authorization using PKI, TACACS, or Kerberos. Use LDAP and SAML for directories and federated identity . Finally, pressure vendors to offer better interoperability between security silos such as anti-malware, IPS, firewalls and identity management/directories.

Data center managers, and CIOs will find it difficult to persuade the business units to give up some control in return for greater flexibility. Focus your efforts on the areas of greatest cost and take it one step at a time. By creating a detailed roadmap, you can show the benefits of discreet and achievable steps without having to evangelize a hard-to-see future. In the next few articles we will expand on this topic and examine the details of the next two steps: virtualization and utility. Stay tuned.


Copyright © 2005 IDG Communications, Inc.

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