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Can software defined fabric meet HK's data center needs?

Billy Chuang | Nov. 19, 2013
The challenges facing data centres in Hong Kong are more than land availability. Hong Kong CIOs demand greater operational efficiency and simplified tech management, which can be achieved through the abstraction of networking layers.

Former Hong Kong Chief Executive Donald Tsang allocated two hectares of land adjacent to the Tseung Kwan O Industrial Estate (TKOIE) for high-tier data center development in 2012. Today, the area is already home to 12 high-tier data centers. (The 12 data centers, according to a report by Asia Cloud Forum, belong to HSBC, Hong Kong Exchange, HKColo, Pacnet Global A and B, NTT WT, Google, China Mobile, Towngas Telecom, Digital Realty & Savvis, Global Switch, China Unicom. IBM's "Tier III+" data center is located in the HKColo building.

While world-class ICT infrastructure, talent availability, and its proximity to China will help the city move even faster toward this particular goal, the SAR's land shortage and the competition between land uses could be a hindrance.

Arup — an international engineering consultant — suggests in its recently published report that data centers can be built underground in five cavern areas around Hong Kong Island and the New Territories.

But challenges facing data centers are more than land availability. Hong Kong CIOs demand greater operational efficiency and simplified tech management, which can be achieved through the abstraction of networking layers.

This is already happening, with the emergence of Software Defined Networking (SDN) or Software Defined Data Centres (SDDC). They do not only generate a lot of buzz in the networking industry, but they also promise increased agility and better management capabilities.

Data centers have evolved—being disparate and no longer resembling the monolithic structures built in the past for a single purpose. They comprise storage, routers and switches, servers, security devices, while solutions like Application Delivery Controllers (ADC), security devices and optimization products glue these layers together.

Dispelling myths with SDF
IDC study points out that the number of physical or virtual services enterprises own could grow ten times, and Hon Kong CIOs need to re-evaluate their IT infrastructures.

As traditional physical elements of the data center continue to migrate towards the software-defined model, CIOs also need to be aware of the demand for more scalable, agile, and flexible infrastructure to support services delivery by lines of businesses in the near future.

Abstracting networking layers is the key to meet this demand while the emergence Software Defined Fabric (SDF), which goes beyond SDN and SDDC, holds promise for better data centers.

SDF goes beyond the traditional abstraction of the networking layers, or what is known as SDN. It includes the contextual intelligence being abstracted from auxiliary services, such as security services and the application layer.

These are embedded across the fabric, which evolves to encompass the servers, switching, storage and security services in a flat and seamless manner. Such fabrics are optimized for horizontal flows rather than the traditional north-south bound flows.

 

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