The past decade has seen a real and measurable transformation in the data center as cloud computing, virtualization and application fluency have changed the way in which companies conduct business, organizations gather information and leaders make decisions. Colleges and universities in particular have been taking a hard look at how to transform their data centers to leverage next generation computing and networking technology to more efficiently and effectively serve their students and university employees by providing a “Connected Education.”
A recent Alcatel-Lucent (News - Alert) white paper, Application Fluency In The Campus Data Center, highlights the influence virtualization, real-time applications and mobile devices have had on the data center. Each one of these elements is putting tremendous pressure on network infrastructures.
Plus, there are the added pressures being created by the bring your own device (BYOD) explosion. This has pushed higher education IT departments to accommodate the needs of their stakeholders while staying in control of who, what, where, why and when can securely access the network and data center resources. Indeed, anecdotally it should be noted that the BYOD trend may have it greatest manifestation on campuses with the average college student now owing six network devices, up from less than four only a few years ago.
In light of all this, there is a new urgency driving data center transformation, and colleges and universities are blazing a trail for the deployment of a next-generation software defined networks (SDNs) that are not only more agile, but also more adaptable to the cost pressures and dynamics of the educational environment on campus.
To ensure the proper transformation of the data center, a strategic modernization of the data center network to ensure it is applications fluent is essential. This new network must respond to the new requirements of server and desktop virtualization. At the same time, a high quality experience must be afforded all students, faculty and staff. This is especially true in the delivery of real-time applications. The demand for campus video services, new collaboration and distance learning tools and operational services in support of campus life are in high demand.
Likewise, the BYOD trend is likely to accelerate, and the network must be able to support the growing number of tablets, smartphones and other mobile devices that continue to outnumber the desk-bound devices that once dominated the network. This is made all the more complex by not just the communications intensity BYOD is creating but by the high turnover of users and their increasingly nomadic nature usage behaviors.
What this translates into is that the current multi-tier network architecture is no longer sufficient to support any-to-any connectivity required on today’s campus. The new focus must be on the application-fluent approach to support the next-generation data center network. As Alcatel-Lucent (ALU) explains, a resilient architecture serves as the foundation of their vision of an Application Fluent Network. This is a network that deliversAutomated controls to allow the network to dynamically adapt to the user, application and current device to deliver a high-quality user experience and simplify all operations.
ALU states that to achieve an optimized data center network, it must consist of:
- Resilient architecture
- Automatic control and streamlined operations
The design then ensures vendor-agnostic integration between network management platforms and the application virtualization platform while ensuring the lowest possible power consumption.
Efficient operation is essential in the college or university network to ensure the best performing connected education experience. To that end, the campus data center infrastructure is enduring a rapid transformation, which is causing fundamental changes in how the campus data center is designed and how future data center networks will evolve. With application fluency solutions from Alcatel-Lucent, educational institutions can enjoy a new blueprint for a complete data center switching fabric to extend the traditional boundaries of the data center to enjoy the new and connected education.
Edited by Peter Bernstein