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Future of the Data Center

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Dr. Todd Law,
Senior Product Manager, Spirent Communications

In a recent report Gartner proclaimed that “the data center is dead”, and that “by 2025, 80% of Enterprises will have shut down their traditional data center, versus 10% today.” The expression “The king is dead, long live the king!” – slightly adapted here – may seem confusing, but it was originally coined to quickly transition subjects’ loyalty from one monarch to the next, without much contemplation. Such was the way of the world at the time!

In our example, the successor to the data center is not another data center, but rather a new form of Cloud-based architecture. Unlike citizens of a monarchy (who basically had to accept their next king), IT departments have a lot of options concerning their future. There are several well-known Cloud providers such as Amazon/AWS, Microsoft/Azure, Google/GCP, among others, who will happily welcome former data center citizens to their Cloud. There is also the possibility of building a do-it-yourself Cloud (probably based on OpenStack). Regardless of the path you choose, just as human migration is a “fraught with peril”, migration of applications and workloads to the Cloud also present considerable risks and dangers to an Enterprise’s vitality.

Beware of Latency

The greatest technical risk is probably the introduction of latency, which is really a metric with multiple contributing factors. Network latency is the time required for data to travel between the end-user’s device and the Cloud. While this factor is for the most part out of a Cloud providers’ control, they can mitigate the risk to a certain degree by offering multiple availability zones which can reduce data travel time. This is one way that Cloud providers compete. Innovative tools such as Spirent TestCenter, enable them to measure network latency from Cloud environments (using virtual ports) to external locations (using physical ports) in the same test.

Latency is also introduced by the Cloud itself, as it responds to a client’s request to retrieve, store, or process information (or more likely a combination of all these tasks) on the server-side of the application, running on Cloud resources. Applications are complex creations with many moving parts. Fortunately, Spirent CloudSure provides visibility into performance of OpenStack-based Cloud deployments, including insights into metrics created by CPU, memory, storage, and networking resources.

The Perils of Resource Over-Provisioning

An additional technical risk has to do with resource requirements, for when workloads are transferred to the Cloud. Data centers are famously over-provisioned, which ironically is one of the big motivators to migrate to the Cloud model in the first place – to achieve better resource utilization through economies of scale. Without diving too deeply into price comparison of Cloud resources, a good starting point is to assess exactly how much of each kind of resource your current workload is consuming. To simplify this process, Spirent developed a unique application called CloudStress, which provides the ability to record resource utilization for determining the capacity needed to run the same workload in a target Cloud. Alternatively, customers using VMware environments in their data centers may use vROps (part of VMware’s vRealize Operations) to collect resource utilization metrics from their original environments, and then convert such data into CloudStress format. What’s unique about Spirent CloudStress is the ability to actually replay workloads, based on the recorded metrics, in the target cloud environment. This provides valuable insight as to whether the target cloud can truly handle the intended workload.

Successful Migration to the Cloud

As for our original starting point, though the statement “long live the Cloud” may not immediately evoke complete reassurance in a brighter future, one thing is for certain. Mass migration to the Cloud is a historical shift in computing that is full of opportunities as well as risks. Companies like Spirent aim to provide innovative tools for minimizing such risks, to make your journey to the Cloud a successful one.


Niloy Banerjee

A generic movie-buff, passionate and professional with print journalism, serving editorial verticals on Technical and B2B segments, crude rover and writer on business happenings, spare time playing physical and digital forms of games; a love with philosophy is perennial as trying to archive pebbles from the ocean of literature. Lastly, a connoisseur in making and eating palatable cuisines.

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