|Issue:||Asia-Pacific II 2014|
|Topic:||Can software defined fabric meet the data centre needs of land-scarce Hong Kong?|
|Author:||Linda Hui / Billy Chuang|
|Title:||Managing Director / Manager, Field System Engineering|
Linda Hui is F5’s Hong Kong Managing Director, responsible for developing their application delivery networking solution and security business in Hong Kong. She has more than 15 years of experience in the information and telecommunication industry.
Prior to joining F5, she helped promote and grow Arthur Andersen’s Risk Consulting Practice, particularly in the technology risk and financial risk area.
Linda joined Andersen from Dow Jones Telerate where she was a sales manager, supervising a team of eleven people that comprised sales, sales administration and customer service staff. She excelled in the role and won several top sales awards during her times with Dow Jones Telerate.
Linda also worked at British Telecom and AT&T Easylink. At BT, she helped to launch BT’s Voice Messaging system in Hong Kong. With AT&T Easylink, Linda jointly marketed EDI services with the Retail Management Association to facilitate electronic order processing amongst their members including Wellcome, Park ‘n’ Shop, and Circle K with their suppliers such as Swire Bottlers and Dairy Farm.
Linda speaks frequently in security and application traffic management area. She holds a BSc from Warwick University and an MBA from Nottingham University in the UK.
Billy Chuang, Manager, Field System Engineering, F5 Hong Kong & Taiwan
Billy Chuang has over ten years of experience in the IT industry with extensive experience on traffic management and security application. Mr. Chuang holds a BSc in Information Technology and he is a Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH). He has been working at F5 for more than five years, gaining very solid experience in application delivery networking.
Hong Kong is pressing ahead on its mission to become an Asia Pacific data centre hub. Former Hong Kong Chief Executive Donald Tsang allocated two hectares of land adjacent to the Tseung Kwan O Industrial Estate (TKOIE) for high-tier data centre development in 2012, today, 12 high-tier data centres are situated in the TKOIE . The vision of an Asian data centre hub is fast becoming a reality.
The data centre is a core part of large enterprises IT – powering revolutions such as cloud computing and big data. Seeing the mounting demand and opportunity, the Hong Kong SAR government aspires to establish the area into a regional data centre hub.
Hong Kong has world-class Information and Communications Technology (ICT) infrastructure and talent; it also has the strategic advantage of close proximity to China. The area has tremendous strategic values, except, the island city has a scarce supply of land. Arup, an international engineering consultant, recently published a report suggesting that the data centres should be built underground in five cavern areas around Hong Kong Island and New Territories.
Hong Kong is pressing ahead in its mission to become an Asia Pacific data centre hub. Former Hong Kong Chief Executive Donald Tsang has allocated two hectares of land adjacent to the Tseung Kwan O Industrial Estate (TKOIE) for high-tier data centre development in 2012, Today, 12 high-tier data centres are situated in the TKOIE . The vision of an Asian data centre hub is fast becoming a reality.
In land-starved Hong Kong – where spacious real estate is a luxury – money cannot be wasted by businesses on inefficient, lumbering data centres – the environment needs to be optimized to ensure efficient use of space. As Hong Kong CIOs aim to achieve greater operational efficiency and management simplicity, the abstraction of networking layers will increasingly proliferate. This is already occurring for example with the emergence of Software Defined Networking (SDN) or Software Defined Data Centres (SDDC), which are generating a lot of buzz in the broader networking industry. The promise is more agility and better management.
It’s no secret that data centres have evolved. Today’s facilities are disparate, no longer resembling the monolithic structures built for the singular purpose needed of them in yester years. They comprise storage, routers and switches, servers, security devices, etc., with solutions like Application Delivery Controllers (ADC), security devices and optimization products gluing these layers together.
Data traffic direction in the data centre has long been uni-directional, from north to south; storage, through the network and switches, to the internet. This needs to change, as it adds overhead and creates additional inflexibility. Besides the need to add different hardware at various networking points to enable the network to adapt to changes in the business can be both costly and resource-draining.
Dispelling myths with SDF
As an IDC study revealed there could be ten times the number of physical or virtual servers enterprises have today, it is time for Hong Kong CIOs to re-evaluate their IT infrastructure. Since the traditional physical elements of the data centre continue to migrate towards software-defined models, they also need to anticipate the lines of business within the company that will require a more scalable, agile and flexible infrastructure to support the delivery of its services. The answer for many local CIOs lies in abstracting networking layers. The emergence of the Software Defined Fabric (SDF), which goes beyond SDN and SDDC, holds better promise.
SDF goes beyond the traditional abstraction of the networking layers, or what is known as SDN. It includes the contextual intelligence being abstracted from auxiliary services, such as security services and the application layer.
These are embedded across the fabric, which evolves to encompass the servers, switching, storage and security services in a flat and seamless manner. Such fabrics are optimized for horizontal flows rather than the traditional north-south bound flows.
Business shaping benefits
One obvious result of SDF adoption will be IT services converging. This convergence of services means they can be orchestrated from a single point of management, creating greater operational efficiency and simplicity that will result in a highly agile infrastructure to support the business. In addition, when services become software defined they don’t need to reside in one data centre. In fact, they can reside anywhere in the world – acting like a single unified data centre, even though they are separated geographically.
Allaying security fears is also a key CIO concern. With businesses increasingly relying on connectivity and data to outcompete rivals and sidestep calamities, robust security is crucial. Having a complex infrastructure that is difficult to manage can be an Achilles Heel for any business in today’s fast-paced, 24 /7 business environment. In response, vendors are moving towards aligning their current hardware-based portfolio with new and emerging software defined services and solutions, which alleviates some of the burden. But the truth is that SDN, if not properly implemented, can create more complexity from a business and pricing model perspective.
Visibility is also enhanced. As administrators gain better visibility of the data flow across the network, they can make real-time decisions on how to optimize the network. This is especially important in an increasingly volatile market where risks and opportunities are dynamic. It also helps organizations to thwart or minimize the impact of disasters, natural or manmade, while ensuring it is business as usual.
Clouds benefit too. As many businesses look to benefit from Cloud’s efficiency and cost effectiveness, SDF enables Cloud services to optimize its capacity, regardless whether they are based on public, private or hybrid Clouds, on a consolidated platform. In addition, by offering a service-oriented solution, rather than a product- or solution-centric one, SDF can boost Cloud flexibility and agility.
SDF is not just an IT-focused solution. By targeting management, simplicity and operational efficiency, it can allow businesses to shape their organizations into lean and agile competitors. The ability to adapt and maximize opportunities means IT hardware or geographical limitations no longer become roadblocks.
The winners will be the customers. By committing to evolving standards-based cloud platforms, member companies provide customers greater choice and flexibility in deploying public and private cloud solutions.
With a consolidated approach, CIOs can leverage the intelligence within their current infrastructure to provide faster and more efficient services with the scale and flexibility the business requires.
More importantly they tackle the biggest challenges that face today’s data centres by abstracting the various layers and components found in a data centre, while improving data management. This allows businesses to make quick decisions while exploring new opportunities without worrying about networking bottlenecks.
It also makes business sense and allows businesses to adopt new IT concepts. For example, by focusing on driving more efficiency and performance in their infrastructures, IT departments can free resources for more value-add initiatives such as bring your own device (BYOD) policies, Big Data analytics, customer on-boarding efficiency and security.
And like data centres, SDF is constantly evolving. The next generation of sophistication will be within SDF itself, centered on the efficient transportation of intelligence and simplified management through a converged data centre solution. For that, stay tuned.