The Inside Story on Bundled Data Center Solutions

IT managers look for packages to save money and reduce complexity when upgrading their data centers.

Whether an organization is interested solely in a converged data center or it also wants to set the foundation for cloud computing, there are all-in-one solutions — or stacks — that can help it accomplish its goal.

Preconfigured data center solutions — with servers, storage, networks and associated cabling, power and cooling integrated at the factory — have existed for years. The main differences among existing preintegrated solutions, which have various marketing names (including “data center in a box”), are density and scale. Existing solutions are typically based on a preintegrated cabinet or series of cabinets ready for rapid installation at a customer’s site.

The biggest advantage of the bundle approach is that it helps remove some of the cost and complexity associated with moving to a new data center paradigm. Bundled solutions help jump-start efforts to move to a flexible converged or virtual environment with a ready-to-deploy solution. The cost savings can derive from ease of acquisition, installation and/or configuration. And organizations can realize even more savings if the solution comes with tools that enable automated provisioning.

Cloud and converged infrastructure solution stacks come in several variations, from loose multivendor marketing alliances to integrated, tested and interoperable technology reference architectures. These stacks can include products from the same or different vendors, purchased separately or under the same SKU number. The value proposition of stacks and solution bundles is straightforward: ease of acquisition, deployment and interoperability.

Converged solution stacks can exist on an organization’s premises or at a collocation or hosting site. They typically include servers, network connectivity, storage and associated management tools. In addition, solution stacks are available with options for hypervisors to support virtual machines, such as those from Citrix, Microsoft (Hyper-V) and VMware (vSphere), as well as traditional operating system/physical machine-based modes.

These converged solution bundles also support specific databases, such as Oracle and Microsoft SQL Server, and enterprise applications, such as SAP, Microsoft SharePoint and Exchange, and others. One example of a converged infrastructure solution is VCE Vblock, which combines Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) servers with EMC storage and management tools and support for Microsoft Hyper-V and VMware vSphere. Another example is NetApp FlexPod, also based on Cisco UCS servers, but combined with NetApp storage systems and associated management software tools. HP (CloudSystem and VirtualSystem) and IBM (BladeCenter Foundation) also offer converged solutions, based on their own servers and storage, along with various networking options and management tools.

For more information, read the CDW white paper on data center convergence.

Mar 29 2012