A new survey from Brocade would be very depressing if it weren’t for the fact that IT executives have known for some time that data center networks are falling behind as virtualization and cloud continue to gather momentum. Although 75% of enterprises have updated their IT environments in the last three years, 91% of IT decision-makers stated that their current IT infrastructures still require substantial upgrades, and 33% admitted that their organizations experience multiple network failures each week.
Almost two thirds — 61% — said their corporate networks are not fit for the intended purpose, with 41% admitting that network downtime has caused their business financial hardship either directly — through lost revenue or breached SLAs — or from their customers’ lack of confidence. On second thought, even knowing how bad it is out there, this news is still depressing.
Enterprises understand the issues, but solving them, especially with the economic challenges of the last few years, are a problem, said Brocade’s Jason Nolet, VP of Data Center Switching And Routing.
“The study covers a lot of ground. We didn’t presuppose the outcome but the outcome was pretty consistent with our thinking.”
Many of today’s data centers are based on 20-year-old technologies, and they can no longer keep up with demand, he said. “Virtualization and cloud models require greater network agility and performance, as well as reduced operational cost and complexity.”
Money has been the biggest problem for the last year or two, and that will continue, at least short term, he said. The next biggest concern is trying to find a way to simplify the environment. The third most prominent challenge is data-center competition with public clouds.
“Some have moved to public cloud, for testdev, but others feel they have the chops to compete,” said Nolet. However it’s more than just a technical challenge but also a cultural one, becoming an internal IT provider and offering SLAs.
The key takeaway for Brocade is that if you use the server environment as an analog, the kind of technical sophistication that’s taken place there have not happened on the network side. The vendors are racing to deliver that kind of innovation, he said.
Many enterprises are looking at deploying Software-Defined Networks by 2015, but there is still a long way to go. “SDN is the poster child for fear, uncertainty and doubt,” said Nolet. “Enterprise data centers are still in listen mode.”
It’s an evolving landscape and vendors are still trying to demonstrate that there is value there. “There are not a lot of hardened, production proven solutions out there.”
Other key findings for the report include:
-enterprises are upgrading their data center networks every two years, but 24% wait more than three years before investing in new technology;
-79% acknowledge that departments within their businesses have deployed cloud-based services, with 13% admitting that these actions would have happened with no guidance from IT;
-75%have on-premise data centers and 19% outsource;
-SDN’s benefits are perceived to be increased productivity (42%), better access to real-time information (40%), improved uptime/availability (38%) and increased service delivery (30%);
-the average percentage of servers being virtualized today is 46%; by 2015, the goal is 59%;
-16% experience daily network outages; database applications (41%), communication tools (30%) and Microsoft Office programs (25%) cause the most problems;
-outages last on average 20 minutes, with 2% having to endure outages of more than an hour; and,
-more than 33% of workers stated that outages have caused SLAs to be missed, with customers not receiving goods/services; 41% added that this has caused customers to seek recompense.