In the classic 1980 movie The Blues Brothers, Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi enter “Bob’s Country Bunker” for the infamous road house scene, where, to their chagrin, the bar hostess tells them, “We have both kinds of music here, Country and Western.” You may not guess it, but this concept relates to our day-to-day business. Getting both investment projection and investment protection is really the core of the value proposition for network convergence. Technology transitions need to be as simple as possible to make them effective and valuable to any business. Network convergence will be just this type of technology transition.
What do we mean by investment projection? We are referring to the ability for an IT manager to project the value of network convergence into the future with reduced capital expense, operational expense and infrastructure savings that enables greater computing density and capabilities in the same data center footprint. It is this ability to project into the future and see how IT managers can support up to 20% more virtual machines per CPU with Emulex’s vEngine™ CPU offload technology, lower administrative costs that will support allocation of IT staff to new projects and plan for more efficient IT operations to make business more competitive that are the real game-changing part of network convergence.
One of the hallmarks of the technology business is that we are always looking for “the next big thing.” As we all know, “the next big thing,” is great, but IT manager have existing investments to maximize and protect. Vendors often talk about investment protection as if protocol compatibly is all it takes. However, the technology compatibility is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. It is the human, policy, regulatory and operational impact that really defines investment protection. This is one of the biggest strengths of network convergence with Enhanced Ethernet. The investment IT managers have made in policies for Fibre Channel such as logic unit number (LUN) masking, zoning, backup and replication for each application’s security and access control, business continuance policy and regulatory requirement do not change. They remain the same. As one early beta usersaid, installing Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) was a “non-event.” This is the real definition of investment protection. On the Internet Protocol (IP) side, the same level of transparent operational smoothness can be expected.
One of the keys to a great vs. good technology is that it can be used in many ways that the originators never envisioned. This is what we think will happen with network convergence. It not only provides the ability to project forward and protect backwards, it creates the ability to find new opportunities and best practices that we are just learning about. As we have worked with early testers, they have found new ways to implement security policies and gain efficiencies in management without breaking existing domains (IP, Storage Area Network (SAN), security, application). They have found ways to use virtual Network Interface Cards (NICs) to reduce capital costs and improve flexibility, and the list will grow as deployments get into full swing. Network convergence is not just about selling new technology; it represents the opportunity to change the strategic value of IT in our businesses.
We see network convergence as a chance to make investment projection and protection work together to improve both…it will help 1+1=3. The goal of any coach or manager is to get more out of the team than the sum of its parts. Network convergence is a chance to look at how everything is deployed in the data center in a rational and thoughtful manner to gain economies of scale and resources. As I have said in a number of previous blogs, network convergence is an inflection process, not an inflection point. As you look more closely at network convergence, we think you will find that you can get more than just investment projection and protection. You will find that 1+1 can, in fact, equal 3.