flexibilitydy·nam·ic (adj) Characterized by continuous change, activity, or progress

flex·i·ble (adj) Responsive to change; adaptable. Able to bend without breaking

 

Infrastructure 2.0 is, at its core, about not just the network but the entire infrastructure evolving to a new level of interconnectedness, one in which the underlying infrastructure devices become flexible and adaptable; capable of responding to the continuous change in the next generation data center without breaking.

The demands placed upon infrastructure by virtualization, consolidation, and the cloud require that networks grow out of their static configuration models and adopt a more flexible method of getting data from one place to another in an efficient, well-performing manner.

Arthur Cole weighs in on the importance of flexibility in A Serious Look at Dynamic Infrastructure and recognizes the need for intelligent network infrastructure. 

The increasing gap between network capabilities and user demand will leave many in the dust – once again, due to significant demand reduction of static hardware systems that may provide a temporary increase in network capacity or performance but do nothing to improve either scalability or flexibility.

To meet the demands of virtualization and the cloud, networks of the future will rely heavily on automation and “connectivity intelligence,” rather than the constant march toward faster throughput and wider bandwidths.

Flexibility is key for Infrastructure 2.0 in all four key infrastructure areas: application, network, TCP/IP, and endpoint. Flexibility is necessary not only for the infrastructure itself to be able to readily adapt to changing conditions in the data center but in order to adapt to the environment as well because as we all know, no two data centers are exactly the same and in the case of a dynamic data center it may not be exactly the same on any given two days. Dynamic infrastructure must be flexible enough to deal with changing network and application configurations as well as the more obvious conditions in the data center such as congestion, packet-loss, client and application types.

That means infrastructure needs to be able to interact with other infrastructure and with the applications it is serving. It needs to be able to determine, at run time, at the instant a request begins flowing through its myriad connections, how best to fulfill that request from routing of packets to determining which instance of the application should respond to applying appropriate security and acceleration policies.

WHAT THAT MEANS FOR INFRASTRUCTURE

Next-generation infrastructure needs to be endowed with a certain level of intelligence that can be leveraged to make decisions and execute logic in order to ensure not only that a request is fulfilled, but that it is fulfilled as efficiently and quickly as possible. It needs to adapt, at run-time if necessary, to myriad conditions inside the data center that might affect those decisions.

These decisions can't be simple decision trees. They can't be hard-coded, static things themselves. They must be able to make decisions based on variables they can't know when they are configured, and take input from the rest of the infrastructure and applications by being aware of the connections between it and every other part of the data center.

Dynamic infrastructure must be able to take action based on information provided by other pieces of the infrastructure, as well. When a new application is deployed the network needs to know how to route to it, the application delivery infrastructure needs to know how to secure and optimize it for delivery, and firewalls and secure remote access devices will need to apply the proper policies for access.

That's what connectivity intelligence really means: infrastructure collaboration. Dropping a packet on the wire because of an entry in a table or configuration file somewhere is no longer enough. It isn't just as about the ability to be automated, it's the ability to collaborate with the rest of the infrastructure in order to change what used to be a static configuration into a flexible system capable of changing itself based on what's happening in the infrastructure, applications, and endpoints to which it is connected. It's about enabling interconnected feedback loops that drive an automated, intelligent infrastructure.

 

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