As enterprises embrace digital transformation, the requirements for their underlying data centre infrastructure are changing dramatically. A shift toward multi-cloud environments underscores the need to react more quickly to changing business needs, while keeping information and assets secure against constantly evolving cyber threats.
The trend is clearly illustrated by organisations’ buying criteria for data centre network solutions. In a recent PwC survey of IT decision makers*, security was the top criterion for data centre purchases, followed closely by automation. Rounding out the top five were agility, technology innovation, and an old standby: total cost of ownership (TCO).
“The role of [the] data centre has now changed from being an infrastructure provider to a provider of the right service at the right time and the right price,” the PwC report states. The message is clear: To be of most value to the organisation, IT must move faster to drive innovation – while reducing risk and without busting the budget.
A Shifting Landscape
The changing requirements make sense when you consider the landscape most enterprises now face: mobile workforces, massive data volumes, and an increasingly complex ecosystem of connected devices from the Internet of Things.
Legacy data centres are typically populated with network infrastructure from multiple vendors, acquired at different times, running different operating systems. This complicates security and automation efforts, slowing down change and deterring innovation. A data centre upgrade presents an opportunity to streamline infrastructure with unified security and operations orchestration.
Agility Through Automation
One key benefit of a data centre upgrade comes from choosing solutions that are highly automated. The goal is largely to take humans out of the equation when it comes to day-to-day management and security activities.
Elements that contribute to agility through automation include:
- Zero-touch provisioning: network devices should be able to configure themselves and support new developer needs without requiring an administrator to stay up late making changes.
- Application awareness: the network should be intelligent enough to apply security policies that go deeper than traditional rules, allowing policy enforcement based on application signature.
- Open, programmable platform: network platforms that support programmatic interaction from open-source automation frameworks such as Chef, Puppet, Ansible and Salt enable an organisation to apply newer, more agile processes to day-to-day network operations.
- Effective management tools: a complete view of all physical and virtual network elements is essential, along with management tools that simultaneously give operators broad management capabilities and visibility while also providing granular control when needed.
- Orchestration: scalable virtual and physical networking solutions require network orchestration, which involves applying sequences of tasks and coordination of complex processes in the network. This enables complex tasks to be autonomously maintained, such as network policies following virtual machines and containers no matter where they’re deployed within the data centre. Automating these tasks allows IT operators to focus on higher-level activities.
- Software-defined networking (SDN): an SDN is a virtual network overlay that delivers virtual routing, bridging, and network services over the existing physical network infrastructure. With all changes implemented in software, SDN supports the rapid, automated provisioning of applications and services, including security. For maximum flexibility, the SDN should be able to work across both public and private clouds.
We partner with Juniper Networks because their line-up of networking and security tools means they are positioned to deliver on the concept of the secure and automated multicloud. Juniper’s automation capabilities enable IT to spend far less time “keeping the lights on”, leaving more time for innovative endeavours.
‘Agility is the New TCO’ taken from IDG and Juniper paper ‘Agility is the New TCO’.