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The Evolution of Technology in the Data Center

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By: Co-Founder & CTO of Stateless, Inc. Eric Keller

The business model of data center operators, including colocation providers and cloud-managed service providers (MSPs), requires that they provide compelling products and services for their tenant end-users while also being incredibly efficient from an operational perspective to maintain margins. 

A key step in improving operational efficiency has been the emergence of the software-defined data center, which emphasizes automated, agile provisioning, and management of compute, storage, and networking resources for tenants. Perhaps most impactful on creating a truly efficient data center has been the evolution of software-defined networking capabilities over the past decade.

With the advent of software-defined networking and fast following technologies like software-defined WAN and the newly introduced software-defined interconnect, data center providers have the ability to rapidly and efficiently build networking products within and beyond the data center like never before. 

The first introduction of software control in data center networks came from the introduction of software-defined networking (SDN) in the late 2000s. The name is a play on software-defined radio, and the technology itself introduced programmable software control over network switches in a more standardized manner.  

While SDN is a broad term that has been oversubscribed today, it most commonly refers to an approach that has the control plane separated from the data plane for centralized, programmable control. As a switching technology, this included the OpenFlow standard which opened up the underlying hardware through open APIs to allow software to directly program the tables on switches (as opposed to legacy switches configured through command-line interfaces). SDN also includes software switching made popular as a means to programmatically control connectivity between virtual machines in a virtualized environment.

Nicera, now VMware NSX, was the first to introduce SDN into the data center. Since this initial deployment, many other commercial players have brought this technology to market including Cisco, Juniper, Ciena and many more. 

In deploying SDN, data center operators are able to more efficiently provision, manage and control networks within their facilities. Providers can use SDN to make storage and compute resources available to tenants more quickly and as a key component of tenant self-service portals. But, most in the industry see the technology as a building block for creating a truly software-defined data center as opposed to a standalone technology. 

One of the key building blocks SDN has created is software-defined wide area networks, frequently referred to as SD-WAN. SD-WAN extends software-defined networking concepts beyond the data center to the wide-area network (WAN) links. The value proposition of SD-WAN was that it provided a more cost-effective and agile way to control the WAN than commercially leased lines or MPLS. 

This covers approaches taken by Google (with B4) and Microsoft (with SWAN) to optimize through software-defined control over their wide-area backbone network interconnecting their data centers. This also covers technology which helps create secure network overlays on top of the public Internet, enabling branch offices to connect to each other in a much simpler manner.

Like SDN, SD-WAN decoupled control and data planes while also providing centralized control providing more rapid and efficient provisioning and management.  Unlike SDN, SD-WAN allows users all over the world to connect into the software-defined network. 

For colocation providers and cloud MSP, SD-WAN is a key tool in providing tenants with a cost-effective and efficient way to connect core data center footprints to edge sites or branch offices and was the first venture in extending software-defined control beyond intra-data center networking. 

Another key innovation in the software-defined data center using SDN as a building block is software-defined interconnect or SD-IX. SD-IX enables programmatic control and automated management of security and routing infrastructure at infrastructure hubs like colocation data centers, Internet exchange points (IXPs), or cloud MSP nodes that interconnect multiple networks and local end-points. SD-IX abstracts these hubs to provide visibility and control to allow programmatic and automated management over the entire interconnected infrastructure.

The decentralization of enterprise workloads has created a market need for the dynamic provisioning and management of networks beyond the four walls of the data center. These networks can include, for example, direct connect links to hyperscaler cloud providers or transit links from network providers. End-points can include, for example, gateways within a colocation cage or a private cloud compute end-point.  

In deploying SD-IX, colocation providers have the ability to build new networking products while improving operational efficiency across core network capabilities that monitor, secure, and optimize network traffic. They also provide cost-efficiency for their tenants that have to undertake cumbersome deployments that connect endpoints not covered by SD-WAN footprints. 

In a recently published white paper by Stateless, details are provided on how the organization’s SD-IX technology enables colocation providers and Cloud MSPs to create a software-defined interconnect fabric that connects tenants to portfolio data centers and hyperscale clouds such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform (GCP) and Microsoft Azure — all of which offer Layer 3 functionality. This new capability gives providers the power to monetize and easily deliver new services and expand their business to be more competitive and profitable.

Datacenter operators are adopting software-defined networking capabilities to completely reshape their business model and how they deliver services to their tenants. We are only at the forefront of this evolution and many more are certain to come as enterprises undertake further digital transformation efforts creating the need for more sophisticated products from their data center partners.  

About the Author

Eric Keller is co-founder and CTO for Stateless, Inc. in Boulder, Colorado. Prior to Stateless, his work was focused on the redesign of network connectivity through research at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Shortly after completing the research, Keller co-founded Stateless and has been growing a team to tackle networking challenges that others deem impossible.

The Evolution of Technology in the Data Center 2

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CAPRE’s Data Center Round Up for November 8, 2019

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Check out the latest in deals, development and disruptive technology in the data center industry for November 8, 2019:

  • Digital Realty Launches PlatformDIGITAL and Unveils Platform Roadmap to Underpin the Next Wave of Digital Transformation: Digital Realty has announced today PlatformDIGITAL, a first of its kind global data center platform designed to enable customers to scale digital business. With the digital economy set to reshape both private and public enterprises across all industries, organizations recognize the need to transform their IT infrastructure so that they can operate ubiquitously and on-demand, informed by real-time intelligence. PlatformDIGITAL provides a trusted foundation enabling customers to solve global coverage, capacity, and ecosystem connectivity needs with a single data center provider; tailor infrastructure deployments and controls matched to business needs irrespective of data center size, scale, location, configuration or ecosystem interconnections; operate deployments as a seamless extension of any global infrastructure with the consistent experience, security, and resiliency that business demands; and enable global distributed workflows at centers of data exchange to remove data gravity barriers and scale digital business.
  • Equinix to Open New Data Center in Warsaw: Equinix has announced the development of a new data center in Warsaw, opening in Q1 2020. Known as WA3, the new International Business Exchange (IBX) data center will offer state-of-the-art colocation, as well as a host of advanced interconnection services. By bringing this capacity to market, Equinix is helping Polish businesses to advance their business digitization and cloud transformation initiatives, as well as enabling global businesses to expand their digital operations in Poland. Today’s organizations are working hard to transform the way they create value in a digital world. Digital disruption is causing IP traffic to explode worldwide, accelerating the need for connectivity. Companies can extend network infrastructure to the edge and enhance workload performance by shortening the distance between digital services and users. By providing this increased capacity in Warsaw, Equinix will expand its role in advancing the digital economy, in which businesses are demanding increasing levels of interconnection to accelerate business performance.
  • Fastly Expands Serverless Capabilities With the Launch of Compute@Edge: Fastly, Inc. has announced the beta launch of Compute@Edge, a powerful new language-agnostic compute environment. The major milestone marks an evolution of Fastly’s edge computing capabilities and the company’s innovation in the serverless space. Fastly’s Compute@Edge is designed to empower developers to build far more advanced edge applications with greater security, more robust logic, and new levels of performance. Developers are being empowered to create new and improved digital experiences with their own technology choices around the cloud platforms, services, and programming languages needed. Rather than spend time on operational overhead, their goal is to continue to reinvent the way end users live, work, and play on the web. Fastly’s Compute@Edge gives developers the freedom to push complex logic closer to end users, and reduces the time to innovate by allowing developers to focus on strategy that drives their companies forward.
  • Microsoft Takes Major Step for Leesburg Development: BizJournal is first reporting that Microsoft has taken the first step in submitting its paperwork to begin buid data centers in Leesburg, VA. The development will cover 332 acres over the land tract that Mifrosoft acquired from the Peterson Cos. in 2018. “A pair of filings indicate the first phase will include two data centers, the first of which, Phase 1A, will be 250,000 square feet and involve a $200 million investment on Microsoft’s part. The data center is expected to create 40 jobs, according to the submission,” writes BizJournal, who noted that Microsoft officials were not immediately available for comment. “Loudoun is expected to fast track the applications, meaning construction will start almost immediately after Microsoft receives its approvals. The development team includes Microsoft design manager Gregory Deeney, professional services firms Dewberry and Arup, and Chicago-based Sheehan Nagle Hartray Architects.”
  • Google Announces OpenTitan, Open Source Chip Design: Google has announced on its Security blog the arrival of OpenTitan – the first open source silicon root of trust (RoT) project. “OpenTitan will deliver a high-quality RoT design and integration guidelines for use in data center servers, storage, peripherals, and more. Open sourcing the silicon design makes it more transparent, trustworthy, and ultimately, secure,” writes Google. “Silicon RoT can help ensure that the hardware infrastructure and the software that runs on it remain in their intended, trustworthy state by verifying that the critical system components boot securely using authorized and verifiable code. The silicon RoT technology can be used in server motherboards, network cards, client devices (e.g., laptops, phones), consumer routers, IoT devices, and more. For example, Google has relied on a custom-made RoT chip, Titan, to help ensure that machines in Google’s data centers boot from a known trustworthy state with verified code; it is our system root of trust.”

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U.S. Hosting Services Company Evocative Raises $30M in Growth Financing

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Source Website Hosting Review |

Evocative Data Centers, a provider of Internet infrastructure and hosting services in five strategic markets across the U.S., has completed a $30 million debt and preferred equity investment led by Crestline Investors.

The original source for ths post is U.S. Hosting Services Company Evocative Raises $30M in Growth Financing on Website Hosting Review.