The power of choice is often taken for granted. We enjoy the freedom to choose in buying decisions every day. Something as simple as a trip to your local supermarket parallels the decisions network administrators face. As shoppers, we select the grocery items that best fit our needs and budget. We go up and down the aisles and purchase the brands and items that meet our criteria and every shopper’s basket looks different. We aren’t forced to buy one brand at one price for every grocery need and neither should customers when selecting mission-critical components for their networking infrastructure. However, according to recent news, for IT shoppers at the Cisco corner store, you will only have one choice and one choice only when it comes to putting together a unified data center.
Cisco considered HP and IBM as blade server partners for its new Unified Computing System, which is designed as a single architecture for data center computing, storage, networking and virtualization. Cisco marketing vice president David Lawler said the company "did have conversations" with HP and IBM about multiple technologies, like unified fabric and the Nexus 1000V virtual switch, which is believed to be an element within UCS.
But "a tighter binding (of the blade server) to the fabric necessitated a new development," Lawler says.
At the same time, Lawler says UCS will not accept blade servers from other vendors like HP and IBM. Nor will the Cisco-developed blade server within UCS work in any other vendors' data center unification or consolidation platform.
"Other vendors' solutions will not work because (UCS is) a single unified system," he says. "And we're not developing blades for other (vendors') platforms."
In contrast, Brocade firmly believes a multi‐vendor and best-of-breed data center strategy supports the idea that in order to solve the complex problems presented by virtualized servers and LAN-SAN network convergence requires the expertise of those that live and breathe the specific technologies in the data center. This is epitomized by the efforts at the IEEE Data Center Bridging (DCB) working group, IETF TRILL working group and the ANSI T11 FCoE working groups. Leading industry experts from LAN, SAN, server and storage suppliers, including Brocade, are working to define the standards to allow for the smooth interoperation of all components in the data center regardless of the vendor. The choice then is based on the quality, scalability, reliability and performance of the individual vendor’s products in implementing these standards, all areas at which Brocade excels.
These new standards change the paradigm used for managing the data center. The historical view has been to silo the management functions. Network administrator controls all network elements. Server administrators controlled the servers. Storage administrators controlled the storage domain. All acted independently of each other and let the other know when a requested task was completed. The new data center created by the DCB and FCoE require a much tighter coordination between all elements of the data center. This requires orchestration software suites such as IBM’s Tivoli or HP’s Opsware that coordinate the provisioning of the data center elements in an on-demand fashion.
History has shown that open and standards-based solutions are more robust and cost effective while proprietary solutions are slow to meet changing needs and more costly. Brocade is an industry leader in standards bodies and offers standards-based best-of-breed solutions.