By now, it should be relatively clear to almost everyone that big changes are well and truly underway in the IT industry. In addition to the development of innovative virtual infrastructure technologies that change some of the basic ways IT works, the underlying hardware has continued to evolve. Getting the most out of virtualization means taking advantage of the less-publicized advances in, among other areas, networking technology. According to IT Business Edge blogger Michael Vizard, the network layer is critically important to a successful virtualization implementation.

Many companies are working hard to provide the kind of network infrastructure that can help make virtualized solutions maintain a high level of performance, he wrote. However, it's less obvious how quickly fiber optic technology will supplant and replace Ethernet standards for business use.

"What is unclear is to what degree 10, 40 and even 100 GbE products will take hold. There's obviously a lot of interest in the networking community, but storage vendors are arguing over the merits of 10 GbE versus next-generation 8 and 16 Gigabit-per-second fiber channel systems. That's a debate that will most likely continue through the rest of the decade,' Vizard asserted.

However, it does appear that 10 GbE networking technology is beginning to fall in price, as new standards become more widely available to companies looking to support increasingly virtualized IT infrastructures, he noted. What's more, one marketing vice president told Vizard in an interview, the 40 GbE standard could be close behind in terms of price cuts.

Change is coming at the storage level as well, the IT Business Edge blogger noted. The increasing popularity of solid-state hard drives - which provide a major performance boost over their traditional hard disk drive predecessors - creates a potentially elevated level of storage traffic. This, in turn, means that the network layer will see a further ballooning of demand.

This doesn't mean, however, that the advent of heavily virtualized IT infrastructures will create the need for major new investments in the data center. Indeed, experts say, the ability to do more with less processing power will cut costs substantially, more than making up for any upgrades needed for legacy network or storage technologies. Needless to say, of course, every company's situation is different and thorough planning is a necessary step.



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