Note: F5 BIG-IP v10 launched earlier this month with 120+ features focused on the IT Agility and the Dynamic Data Center. This is a multi-part series on matching the needs of IT with the needs of business through IT Agility.

F5 BIG-IP v10: Unifying Application and Data Delivery Services

A New Data Center Computing Model

Issues such as consolidation, shared services, and reducing costs are the CIO’s goals to help aligning business and IT, but they aren’t step-by-step roadmaps for IT. They’re more along the lines of mandates for IT. IT’s main concern is how to consolidate the data center while keeping atari_2600the business online. The steps used by IT to achieve these business goals lie in the data center itself, in building a dynamic data center that is fl uid and can move with the business. In order for the data center to achieve this mobility and break out from the physical elephantine
traditional data center model, it must be designed with flexibility at every step, including the way computing is handled at the core of the  data center.

The primary driver to adopting a dynamic data center is the advent of a new computing model, a model where discrete resources are allocated for applications and are decoupled from physical boundaries (such as servers and data centers). The new model enables IT to build data centers around the applications rather than the network; to break through the physical requirements of primary and secondary single-purpose computing sites; and, most importantly, to begin treating all parts of the data center—network, IP, storage, and applications—as
fluid services rather than isolated technologies.

In the traditional data center, you have to install a new physical server, run cabling to a physical switch, and manage those components individually when you want to spin up a new application. Today, applications no longer need servers—they need services. Services are groupings of resources used by an application—such as computing resources (CPU, RAM, bus), network resources (bandwidth, VLANs, routes), and storage resources (SAN heads, platters, fi le systems). This new computing model—where you can “check out” discrete resources for any application rather than isolating that application to a physical box—is opening up new doors for where applications live, how they run, and what technologies you use to deliver those applications. Application services, and the infrastructure they rely on, become dynamic and fluid.

The Dynamic Data Center

The move to the dynamic data center is both an evolutionary progression as well as a revolutionary change. The data center has been in a constant state of evolution for decades, moving from a physically siloed vertical environment to a more unified, shared horizontal model. There has been a gradual uptake in the integration between storage and networking services and the network has moved into more of an active fabric role—a role where the network becomes an active participant in application delivery and can dynamically change to address application needs and work with the application as part of the delivery infrastructure—rather than simply a data transport commodity.

In the past three years, we’ve seen another revolutionary change in the data center: virtualization. Virtualization disassociates applications and services from the constraints of one-to-one hardware, enabling the data center to become more agile. The rapid adoption of virtualization in the data center has changed both the actual components that make up the data center, as well as how you approach them, by using these new technologies and services they create.

Virtualization, more than any technology we’ve seen in the past 20 years, has fundamentally changed the data center and has enabled businesses to stop treating the data center as a physical room full of servers and instead treat the computing resources within the data center—and even the data center itself—as a true service designed to deliver applications. Virtualization is the motivator for new computing models such as cloud computing and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS). This new computing model, at its core, is being driven by the need to leverage new data center technologies to deliver applications and services. Businesses aren’t building data centers to hold servers; they’re building them to deliver applications. If businesses fully embrace this new agile environment and change the model in which applications are delivered, the traditional physical data center model is unnecessary, as the dynamic data center can reside in any format in any location, focused on application delivery rather than hosting.

Next Up: Delivering IT Agility with BIG-IP v10