Data Centre / Software Defined Data Centre (SDDC)

Data Centre / Software-Defined Data Centre (SDDC)

Overview

As the place where your network and compute systems are stored, the data centre brings with it a number of key challenges.

Physically, the data centre demands space. The larger the company, the greater this demand for space in order to store all the equipment needed to build the environment. Alongside the equipment storage also comes the need for power, cooling and security, all of which must be considered as part of a data centre build.

From an IT perspective, the data centre demands bandwidth and storage. The equipment needed to create a DC environment uses up vast amounts of resource which need to be pre-provisioned to ensure it is able to provide the services demanded from it.

In the simplest expression, the key IT challenge of the data centre is to provision as much storage and computing power as is feasible with the resources available, and then to link them together in the fastest way possible. The key physical challenge of the data centre is how to do this with the most efficient use of space and the smallest carbon footprint.

Of course, as data centres become larger, and house more equipment, they become harder to manage. This adds a layer of complexity to the overall performance.

Changing times mean that older data centre IT infrastructures were typically built in a way that has become overly restrictive when compared to the demands of modern applications. This prevents operators from responding to changing technologies and new ideas with the speed and agility we need to have in the modern world.

There is a solution, however, and this lies in the Software-Defined Data Centre. By overlaying SDN and orchestration on the data centre infrastructure, along with other services such as hyper-scale storage, we are able to build a much more flexible and agile delivery solution on top of the traditional infrastructure model we are used to. This enables us to deliver new services to market quicker and, ultimately, become more profitable.

Why we’ve created the reference architecture?

In building a reference architecture for the data centre and SDDC, we hope to break through the myriad of options available and provide a solid set of foundations on which to build your data centre.

Our approach to the physical data centre architecture is to keep things simple. By cutting out the elements we don’t believe are necessary, we have successfully kept costs at a sensible level whilst still delivering a high performing solution and strong underlay to act as the foundation for everything we build on top of it.

The architecture we’ve created is built to leverage the strongest features of each of the technologies chosen so we can be sure we are using them to their maximum potential.

Which technologies have we chosen and why?

Networking

For the networking element of the data centre, we have elected to primarily use technology from Juniper Networks. Juniper have a strong pedigree in the service provider and data centre arena and have spent time focusing on the valuable key features which really deliver the performance and features we look for.

Juniper’s portfolio remains strong across both switching and routing and all technologies are very open in terms of compatibility making them easy to deploy alongside existing infrastructures.

Security

There are several layers of security to consider within the data centre. First, we need to ensure we have a firewall and Intrusion Prevention Systems in place. Juniper’s SRX firewalls are currently the fastest in the world, simply outperforming the competition, and therefore have an important presence within our reference architecture.

For DDoS protection, we have leveraged solutions from both Arbor Networks and F5. With over 15 years’ experience delivering security solutions, Arbor are firmly established in the industry and provide a comprehensive and reliable solution. F5 have a strong, multi-service offering with their BIG-IP products and offer DDOS platforms as part of this.

F5’s Application Security Manager component of BIG-IP completes the main security features within the reference architecture, delivering visibility, control and protection for web applications.

Storage

The storage element of the reference architecture offers a degree of flexibility dependent on requirements. For high-scale data centre storage we recommend HP 3Par whereas for smaller requirements, Dell Equalogic and HP MSA provide strong solutions.

There is also room for flexibility dependent on the compute option chosen as it is often beneficial to select the same vendor for both.

Other data centre storage requirements may include hyper-scale storage such as that provided by Atlantis or Nutanix. We are still evaluating a number of options in the area so please get in touch for more information.

Compute

As with storage, there is a degree of flexibility around compute. Dell’s price performance ratio on discreet compute units is extremely appealing so, where large quantities of discreet compute units are required, this is generally the way to go.

HP Blade System, on the other hand, makes a better choice for large clusters of compute due to its high performance, extremely low latency and flexibility of deployment solutions.

SDDC

The SDDC encompasses many things but key are SDN, Orchestration, NFV and some form of highly distributed storage. Whilst it is not absolutely necessary to use aligned vendors for SDN and for orchestration, we would always recommend our customers do so due to the increased ease of integration.

With this is mind, we have evaluated the many options available around the SDDC and have narrowed this down to two alternatives, both of which we feel are effective solutions in different scenarios. The decision between these two options will depend on the company in question, their attitude to cost and their attitude to risk.

VMWare are extremely well established in the virtualisation field, having been first to market with this technology, and therefore represent the highly supported and integrated solution with many years of operation around it. VMWare NSX is a strong, reliable and well-recognised solution which holds a high percentage of the market share for SDN.

The OpenStack orchestration platform is the other major platform we have adopted. Openstack is based on open source platforms but can additionally be integrated into commercial hypervisors such as VMware. As it is open source, there are both pros and cons to the option, but the platform is gaining a lot of traction in the marketplace and we believe this to be a strong contender for market leader in the future.

Juniper Contrail is a natural SDN overlay solution to attach to Openstack. Whilst it can be used standalone, it is most flexible when deployed hand in hand with Openstack. As an open source solution it comes with greater flexibility for those companies with the development resource to take advantage of it. Contrail also comes as a fully supported platform from Juniper so can be deployed with commercial support contracts in place for that extra peace of mind.

 

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Data Centre / Software Defined Data Centre (SDDC)
The solutions below form part of our Data Centre & Software Defined Data Centre (SDDC) reference architectures.

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If you would like more information regarding the Data Centre or the SDDC, please get in touch with our solution specialists. Contact Us