Data center managers need to operate within their organization’s budget guidelines, while keeping efficiency and energy consumption in mind. As they’re being cost-conscious, they can’t lose sight of the high standard of five-nines (99.999 percent) that is expected of reliable networks. Luckily, matrix switch technology not only supports increased efficiencies in device usage but also enables facilities to reduce the number of monitoring devices.
The following are four key cost savings that result from the deployment of matrix switch technology:
No. 1: Monitor with less equipment
A look into many data center facilities today reveals the common five-nines requirement; that is, the need to deploy monitoring tools such as protocol analyzers, network probes and intrusion detection system appliances to create a DPI (deep packet inspection) solution. This plan, while sound, is cost-prohibitive for many large facilities that must monitor hundreds or thousands of ports, oftentimes in multiple data centers.
A matrix switch enables the electronic sharing of network monitoring equipment, thereby significantly reducing the number of devices needed to achieve 100 percent network visibility. This technology is such that a tool is physically connected into the switch just once, and then engineers can share equipment via a software interface from their workstations.
To understand the full impact of the matrix switching solution, consider, for example, companies with multiple purpose-built data centers. Such enterprises often require monitoring capabilities that include DPI, traffic analysis, network break-fix and more. Matrix switch technology makes it possible to reduce these monitoring equipment investments by an average of 50 percent per data center-while still guaranteeing they will have full network visibility. While no hard data is available, it is certainly easy to project that capital equipment savings can reach well into the six-figure range.
Now take into consideration the maintenance costs for these tools. Many IT departments spend 60 to 80 percent of their budgets on vendor maintenance fees, upgrade costs or multiyear outsourcing contracts. The annual cost savings offered by a matrix switching solution alone can often pay for the installation of such technology.
No. 2: Improve productivity
Network managers and test engineers need to operate within their organization’s budget guidelines, so efficiency and productivity are critical. With electronic device-sharing making it possible to manage device connections from a central location, the need to physically re-cable a switch is eliminated. This is significant because engineers no longer have to leave their workstation, go to the data center, gain access, re-cable equipment connections, and then go back and resume work. Even if this process goes smoothly, it can still take perhaps 15 to 30 minutes to complete (or much longer if the issue is difficult to resolve, the data center has an extensive array of equipment or if it is in a remote location).
With a matrix switch deployment, the network engineer can manage the entire monitoring infrastructure from a remote computer screen and make device changes instantly-and securely-via the software interface. Connecting a device from one network port to another is accomplished with a simple mouse click, and all in a matter of seconds. Considering the salary for a typical network engineer, the time savings can quickly add up to thousands of dollars. In the case of large enterprises with many network engineers, these “manual energy” cost savings can be monumental.
Avoid Network Interruptions or Failures
No. 3: Avoid network interruptions or failures
Similarly, the manual re-cabling of monitoring devices in a data center can be a recipe for disaster. Eliminating the need for network personnel to physically move devices in data centers ends the risks associated with that access, including the possibility that someone will incorrectly re-cable a monitoring tool to the wrong port and accidentally take down a network. An occurrence such as this could cripple any major enterprise that relies on its network for customer transactions, as the online traffic could be interrupted, revenue and sales could be lost, and many costly resources would have to be brought to bear on the problem.
A matrix switch solution inherently guards against such an eventuality. Again, all equipment changes are made through software, ensuring that an engineer cannot inadvertently move a tool to an incorrect location of the network. The software also offers many built-in safeguards, such as port locking and directory authorization. This provides additional assurance that the risks associated with unauthorized connection of monitoring devices are eliminated.
No. 4: Reduce cooling loads
Matrix switches also aid in achieving another top data center goal: reducing energy consumption. According to a study by the Environmental Protection Agency, data centers in the United States consumed 61 billion kWh in 2006-more than double the amount consumed in 2000-at a cost of $4.5 billion. Additionally, the EPA acknowledges that under current efficiency models, data center power consumption could double again by 2011.
Now, consider the earlier example of the data center that is able to eliminate 50 percent of its monitoring devices with the deployment of matrix switch technology. We can surmise that half the number of monitoring devices will result in a significant reduction in power consumption, as well as a reduction in the data center’s thermal load. Those familiar with data center management know that the cost of cooling facilities is of primary concern to operations managers.
Further, lower heat loads translate into less heat-related wear and tear on equipment, which in turn preserves the lives of these devices. This cuts down on maintenance repair costs, and also avoids heat-related equipment issues that can impact network performance or even availability.
Jason Perlewitz is a professional services manager at APCON. Jason has over 11 years of experience in product definition and development, hardware/system test, network design and process engineering within the telecommunications, financial services and IT industries. As manager of APCON’s Professional Services department, Jason maintains oversight for all service-related aspects of the customer experience in both pre- and post-sales initiatives. These include solution design, system integration and consulting services, in addition to on-site customer training, professional integration and installation.
Previously, Jason held positions in product development engineering and engineering management at Motorola, Ciena and Lucent Technologies. Primary accomplishments include successfully bringing nine unique telecommunications hardware products with embedded and application-level software from concept to market on time and within designated budget constraints, and increasing quality assurance operating efficiencies by more than 50 percent through the development and introduction of automated testing techniques and tools. Jason holds a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering from Northwestern University. He can be reached at [email protected].