Network Agility Drives Digital Transformation in the Data Center

One of the biggest digital transformation challenges that enterprises face is overcoming a lack of alignment between business and IT users. As digital transformation spending reaches the $2 trillion mark in the coming years, this is a problem you need to solve if you want to see a return on your investments.

In a previous post, we talked about how intelligent automation helps fill legacy gaps and free up IT resources for more valuable digital transformation projects. However, network automation alone won’t align business and IT users to deliver digital transformation success.

You need a more holistic shift in your network to eliminate the complexities that hold your business back. That means evolving from a traditional data center to an agile data center—one designed for the automation, visibility, and flexibility necessary for your most ambitious digital transformation projects.

Why It’s Time for a Data Center Transformation

Digital Transformation

For decades, enterprises approached network design without considering long-term implications. As new demands came in from the business, new layers were deployed on top of and alongside existing equipment. And over time, you’ve created a set of interdependent systems and services that make it nearly impossible to maintain as business leaders expect more agile development.

In the past, you could deal with network adjustments and improvements over the course of a few weeks or months. Now, any disruption to the network can harm the business operations, leaving you minimal time to maintain the performance and reliability of your complex data center. If you’re waiting months for an appropriate maintenance window to present itself, you’re already falling behind digital transformation objectives.

But if it were so easy to eliminate data center complexity, every enterprise would do it. The intricate web of protocols—everything from STP to MSTP, RSTP, OSPF, TRILL, and more—and legacy systems can’t just be replaced on the fly.

That’s why your first step has to be a commitment to building an agile data center. Even though you can’t rip-and-replace your way to a new data center, you can take decisive steps toward eliminating random automation, rigid architectures, and inefficient purchase models.

Click to read up on how “intelligent automation” is the foundation of an agile Data Center.

The Agile Data Center Explained

Digital Transformation

Every business leader is hoping digital transformation will bring newfound innovation and agility to her company. They want to enable their businesses with the latest technologies—and it’s your job as the IT leader to redefine your role and support that vision.

Building an agile data center is no longer an option. It’s the path to sustainable innovation across the business. In order to create an agile data center, you need to have three key pillars in place:

Open Architecture:

Legacy data centers are synonymous with vendor lock-in. Every set of solutions is proprietary and contributes to interoperability issues in your architecture. An agile data center must remain vendor agnostic, giving you the flexibility to adapt as new demands come into play.

Multi-Vendor Management:

Open architecture doesn’t necessarily mean your entire data center will run on open source components. You can’t replace all of your legacy systems immediately, which means multi-vendor management is essential. The agile data center overcomes interoperability issues and centralizes management, regardless of which vendor supplied the components.

Cross IT Automation:

Speed is critical in agile data centers. By implementing a central controller that can orchestrate automated workflows for provisioning new systems, service initiation, and troubleshooting, you can react faster to changing business demands. However, you can’t allow automated workflows to exist in silos like they do in legacy data centers. Orchestration must happen across all functions of the agile data center to facilitate successful digital transformation.

This all sounds great in theory. But when you look at where you are (a traditional data center) and where you want to be (an agile data center), the path ahead may seem all but impossible. You can’t rip and replace an entire legacy data center in favor of an agile one. And you can’t start chipping away at legacy systems because the house of cards you’ve built over the decades would fall apart.

The only way to create an agile data center is to forget the dream of a greenfield project. Accept the fact that you’re working with a wide variety of applications, services, and networks and find solutions that create an agile data center without overhauling the entire architecture.

That’s where a data center fabric comes into play.

Data Center Fabric Is the Foundation of Agility

Digital Transformation

Fabric solutions give you the foundation necessary for an agile data center. The key is programmable switching hardware that eliminates any need for ripping and replacing legacy systems.

Instead, you’re able to make changes to your infrastructure with simple software updates and avoid the lengthy hardware deployment models that derail digital transformation initiatives. This software-based foundation allows you to reuse hardware components even as your networking needs changes in the face of increased virtualization, cloud migrations, the Internet of Things, and more.

In addition to creating an adaptable base for your data center, fabric solutions are able to orchestrate all applications, support systems, and services across the data center.

But not all data center fabrics are created equal. When we help enterprise IT leaders build agile data centers, we turn to Fabric Connect from Extreme Networks because it’s able to provide:

  • Event-Driven Automation: Bridge the gaps between islands of automation using Workflow Composer, powered by StackStorm, to reduce IT tasks from days and weeks to minutes or seconds. Editable, open workflows help you break down silos in your IT environment, automate manual operations for scalability, and enable event triggers to execute actions anywhere across your network.
  • Visibility and Analytics: Automation isn’t meant to take humans out of IT operations. Rather, it opens up resources for your team to spend time on more valuable digital transformation projects. But you still have to make sure that newfound time is well-spent. Fabric Connect provides granular network visibility from wire to workload so you can receive real-time insights that power data-driven decisions. These insights are the foundation for intelligent automation and also help your team deliver on enterprise-wide digital transformation projects.
  • Integration and Adaptability: Programmable ASICs, open APIs, and scalable, future-proof designs help you adapt to ever-changing network speeds, standards, and protocols so that your entire data center network stays current.

These benefits and features make Fabric Connect an ideal choice for making the shift from traditional to agile data centers. But this description only scratches the surface of all Fabric Connect can do for your data center.

If you want to dive deeper into the capabilities of Fabric Connect, check out this free white paper—Fabric Connect: The Quiet Revolution.