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Ensure data center resiliency: intelligent networks can lower costs, and improve security and business continuity.

Scalable, intelligent storage networks, based on director-class switches, offer significant business resilience benefits. Such networks enable efficient utilization of storage resources through pooling, and consistent data replication and mirroring for continuous access.

Using virtual storage area network (VSAN) and Fibre Channel security protocol technologies operating on high-performance, protocol-agnostic switches can securely consolidate multiple SANs into one highly available physical SAN environment. An intelligent storage network also enhances data replication through write acceleration, compression and encryption to improve application performance, reduce WAN latency bottlenecks and enhance data confidentiality.

An intelligent data center interconnect net work provides high-speed, low-latency interconnections between campuses, metropolitan-area networks or remotely located data centers-crucial for ensuring business continuance. To address recovery time, distance and cost requirements, as well as network service availability, optical switches should support multiple technologies, including dense wave-division multiplexing and synchronous optical network/synchronous digital hierarchy services, and storage protocols such as FICON, ESCON, Fibre Channel, and Fibre Channel over IP.

End-to-end management across tiered networks simplifies configuration, monitoring and updating, resulting in consistent procedures, effective collaboration between data center groups and reduced administration costs. Using tools that provide real-time information about traffic and network devices, staff can quickly configure, monitor and troubleshoot the entire infrastructure, resulting in faster response to critical situations.

To help ensure nonstop access, intelligent networks should use highly reliable networking elements that are designed to ensure that no single point of failure exists within the data center network. Devices should include advanced resiliency features that provide automatic and transparent (stateful) failover in the event of component, module, device, link or power failure.

A combination of integrated network security capabilities is required to address growing security threats and provide secure communications between application tiers deployed on a common shared infrastructure. Virtualized, hardware-based firewall capabilities can be deployed between virtual LANs, together with host and network-based intrusion-protection systems, secure sockets layer (SSL) services and VPN termination systems. In the storage arena, VSANs provide highly secure environments for applications, together with encryption and standards-based host authentication to help ensure data confidentiality.


A comprehensive delivery optimization system enables fast, transparent response to changing application loads and service disruptions, protecting users during both planned and unplanned outages. Delivery optimization services should combine management, local and global load balancing, wide area file services, SSL offloading, caching, quality of service and advanced multicast support into a cohesive, integrated system.

Taking advantage of new embedded technologies, IT managers can use the network as a platform to centrally host systems software and services that were traditionally hosted and managed on disparate, isolated servers and storage systems. Embedded services provide the performance, easier administration and reach to enable the resiliency and virtualization required for today's data centers.

By embedding virtualization technology into intelligent storage devices, IT managers can combine multiple physical devices into a single logical system, or segment large storage devices into multiple logical units, creating a central system for volume management. Virtualization allows managers to provision more storage, remove or maintain storage devices, and achieve data migration without system or application downtime. By integrating virtualization services, storage fabric switches can redirect requests to alternative devices in case of device failure, and easily create, delete or expand a virtual drive to optimize resource utilization.

New, embedded technologies can ease the overhead associated with data replication and distribution. Such hardware-based, multilayer innovations improve the scalability, availability, security and manageability of data replication and backup services. Network-assisted applications can be hosted on appliances that connect to a standards-based, nonintrusive, application-programming interface to provide advanced services, such as replication or data backup.

New generation application-aware capabilities can intelligently mediate data center applications at the business message level. These technologies complement the other layers in the three-tier model to provide true application-level integrity, security and visibility of information, and support for emerging service-oriented architectures.

Because the data center is so vital to the success of many of today's businesses, organizations must take steps to ensure uninterrupted access. By deploying a cohesive, intelligent foundation network, organizations can ensure highly reliable and available data center operations and continuous access to relevant applications and services for all users. In addition, the infrastructure prepares the data center to support emerging service-oriented and utility computing technologies, such as blade servers, virtualization, Web services and grid computing.

For more information from Cisco Systems:

Pierre-Paul Allard is vice president of enterprise marketing with Cisco Systems, San Jose.
COPYRIGHT 2005 Nelson Publishing
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Title Annotation:Business Continuity
Author:Allard, Pierre-Paul
Publication:Communications News
Date:Jun 1, 2005
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