Emulex is driving convergence in the data centre

Our last but one visit in the Silicon Valley on November 18 was with Emulex, and we were greeted by Steve Daheb, CMO & SVP business development and Shaun Walsh, VP Corporate Marketing


The Emulex vision is about the fact they realised that networks were about to converge for the first time:  data networks used to be separated from storage networks. With the event of 10Gb ethernet we are seeing things converge. Emulex is a 30-year company founded in 1978, based in Costa Mesa, Calif. with 960 employees. Emulex works with HP, IBM and all other major companies. Emulex is also a great partner of Blade Network Technologies’ which we have visited previously.

There are 2 product lines at Emulex: 1) host servers 2) back-end storage which is a legacy business for Emulex. Emulex has a legacy business in Fibre channel (a technology used to build SANs in which Cisco and Brocade are leaders).

Recently, Emulex acquired ServerEngine, which with they have worked for 2 years. They closed the deals with HP and IBM with ServerEngine and Emulex is winning quite a few deals in which their chips are equipping OEM 10 Gb Ethernet equipment and 9 out of 10 tier 1 OEMs have picked them for convergence (some exclusively, some not), amongst which HP, Dell, Cisco, Fujistu Siemens and IBM. A big part of the company is already working on what will come next and will be delivered in 2012 and 2013.

the data centre of the future

A lot of enterprises are still at the crossroads with data, email and storage networks all considered 3 distinct networks. With this kind of architecture, customers are compelled to upgrade their data centres and cost is a big issue. A second step is to “move everything into virtual data centres and this is where we are today” Shaun added.

But in the last 24 months, we have seen the rise of converged fabric-based computing as announced by HP (Flexfabric), IBM (virtual fabric) and Cisco. Convergence is happening, for server virtualisation, switching, storage and adapters (LOMs i.e. LAN on Motherboard).  These past 24 months, convergence has been flavour of the month and is showing the way forward.

from servers to blades and lastly … to “cookie sheets

The 10Gb Ethernet is a new inflection point which is a sign for innovation, and such innovation is made flesh with 4 main trends which Steve described here. These 4 trends are defining the future of data centres:

  1. data is growing at an increasing rate and this is driving huge demand in bandwidth,
  2. IT priorities are based around how one can deploy more quickly,
  3. cost drivers are prevalent: lower capex/opex and data centre consolidation,
  4. technology trends such as “cloud computing” which necessitate a convergent environment, mostly for SMEs.

Behind these 4 trends, Steve described 3 business drivers which are impacting the way that data centres are being architected.

  1. SMBs an remote office data centres
  2. enterprise hybrid data centres: a mixture of internal data centres for data privacy and public cloud applications for cost reasons
  3. hyper scale data centres

Data is growing at a staggering compound annual growth rates of approx. 50%. More users mean more transactions and convergence is therefore required. 9m servers will be shipped in 2010, 1m+ will be of the new breed, Shaun said and he added that we are moving from servers to blades and now what Shaun called cookie sheets because they are so thin.

from a networks point of view, what is driving change?

Steve described the 5 reasons for change in the data centre from the network perspective:

  1. the explosion of devices which will eventually lead to the replacement of the laptop, and the explosion of content and transactions,
  2. new technology is being brought to the edge – as the new stuff being brought by Riverbed – and more intelligence is needed in the data centre,
  3. video, web-enabled mobile is boosting traffic so much so that switch port shipments are rocketing up wit happrox. 60% CAGR (see above photo),
  4. security is also a huge driver,
  5. network traffic is not only driven by consumers but also enterprises, with mobile acces to applications on mobiles.

the data centre of the future requires a new networking model

Emulex sees his role as that of a leader in that move into convergence, partnering with BNT, VMWare and all their OEMs.

the management mind meld book available for download

If you want to know more about the Emulex vision, we recommend you download their online e-book “the management mind meld”

you can also follow Emulex on Twitter at @emulex

Converged networking results in an overlap of network and storage administrators’ responsibilities. This guide explains networking and storage basics to help each administrator better understand the changes resulting from converged networking and how it will impact their role in the data center.

Blade Network Technologies: “we do business with people for whom, when the network goes down, it will cost millions of dollars!”

the network as a business enabler

On June 3rd, 2010, at the end of our press trip in the Silicon Valley, we have had the opportunity to meet with Vikram Mehta, President and CEO of Blade Network Technologies (BNT), a four year-old company dedicated to “providing the interconnect fabric” behind cloud computing to put it in the words of our host who welcomed us at BNT’s headquarters in Santa Clara, Ca. What is behind this concept of “interconnect fabric” is the provision of intelligent networking and storage application connectivity for virtualised data centres.

what is keeping CIOs awake at night?

What I particularly liked about Vikram’s presentation was his introduction in which he described very clearly the 7 painpoints which are keeping CIOs awake at night.

  • first and foremost, scalability – the almost obligatory buzzword in the infrastructure industry and in the Bay area in particular – is of the essence. As businesses grows rapidly and business owners rely extensively on IT to support their needs, the requirement for that IT infrastructure to grow with the business is becoming an imperative,
  • as data centres have to grow exponentially, density is one of the most critical issues that IT managers have to face. It’s a matter of packing as much computing and storage power as possible in as little space as possible. Yet, it’s not just an issue of piling up more storage bays and blades, it’s also a matter of providing the critical connectivity between these various elements (computing, storage and I/O). All of these leading to mind-boggling issues in the data centre,
  • thirdly, a faster and larger deployment of such infrastructure is a towering issue. Imagine a large investment bank which was used to deploy 5,000 new servers each year. That very same bank – because of the increasing importance of automatic trading – was led to deploy 100,000 servers last year! This is what happened to Morgan Stanley and BNT helped the Bank overcome that issue and even won an award in that process,
  • fourthly, maximising the utilisation of that infrastructure is critical too. Not all servers are used in the same way. Some sort of yield management (i.e. the method pioneered by airlines in the 1980s in order to maximise the number of passengers per aircraft) is necessary in order to optimise the usage of deployed resources,
  • the fifth problem that CIOs are facing in this mass computing age is security, a topic often tackled on our own blogs. As more business is pushed online, namely in banking and investment banking as seen in the above example, more security is needed because hackers will always focus on a) where the information is widely available online b) where big money flows,
  • next on CIOs’ agenda is the need to be able to mine such data efficiently across huge databases. In essence, if more data is stored online, real-time drill down in humongous data bases becomes a critical issue, as seen in detail with our visit to Clustrix in San Francisco,
  • last but not least comes the total cost of ownership (TCO) issue, which is obviously and directly linked to this exponential growth in server and capacity deployment in the data centre.

>>> read on at http://blogs.orange-business.com