Embracing a Multi-vendor Ecosystem: The best of all worlds for data centres?

As the network needs of businesses continue to evolve – with the increased use of personal devices and the operational cost benefits offered by migrating IT infrastructures to the cloud – there are clear advantages for enterprises to adopt an open multi-vendor, ecosystem approach to enhance the running of their corporate networks. Johan Ragmo, Business Development Director, CNE for Network Infrastructure at Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise explains three key advantages of deploying an open multi-vendor data centre.

Some vendors have become adept at creating an environment where companies believe that the best infrastructure out there is one they supply. But with the inevitable march of BYOD, just as one supplier does not provide the device of choice for all employees, similarly, no one vendor necessarily provides the infrastructure solution of choice for an enterprise. Even Gartner agrees – research released at the end of 2010 showed that many of the supposed benefits of a single vendor approach are indeed all part of what it termed, a single vendor myth.

And companies are starting to embrace a best of breed approach. Research from network security company AlgoSec showed that 93.9 percent of respondents had deployed solutions from multiple vendors in their environment, with 56.5 percent having deployed solutions from four or more different vendors.

And the advantages of best of breed solutions are equally realisable in the cloud – there is now a new breed of cloud ecosystems where interdependent components work together to enable cloud services. Whether cloud-based or not, these multivendor ecosystems provide enterprises with the key advantages of best of breed deployment – the freedom to choose the right tools for the job as well as open standards based solutions with the ability to integrate, and therefore clear cost benefits.

Mobility the catalyst to changing the infrastructure

The need for seamless communication on mobile devices is now a business imperative: customers often need a fast response; decisions need to be made in real-time; in many cases, employees now spend time travelling and working at the same time on their device of choice.

Today’s smart devices have the processing power of laptops from just a few years ago, and every new generation of device is becoming faster and more bandwidth-hungry than the last, and this is placing substantial demands on enterprise networks to quickly react to changes in workload.

This means that an Application Fluent Network (AFN) is an essential ingredient to providing a resilient and secure infrastructure – automatically adjusting and optimising entire corporate networks to effectively support any device. But in order to get to an AFN approach, how can enterprises develop their network to accommodate for a more resilient and cost effective infrastructure? Moving to a multi-vendor data centre based on this approach is the answer.

3 key advantages of a multi-vendor data centre

1. Open Standards

Data centre networking is undergoing a major transition toward a smarter, more dynamic infrastructure, driven by IT consolidation and the need to accommodate server virtualisation. Existing networks were not designed to handle modern workloads and applications, and in light of these changes, enterprises must look towards building a data centre network which is based on open industry standards-based designs.

2. Best-of-breed

In today’s application-rich, highly mobile world, a best-of-breed approach can significantly reduce risk for enterprises, enabling them to select products that best meet their needs. Implementing proprietary systems does not only lock you into future hardware deployments, but it limits the software and applications that you can deploy throughout the enterprise network as well – something very prohibitive at a time when new devices and applications are flooding into the corporate network.
Instead, enterprises should evaluate their business needs and deliver a best-of-breed approach based on those requirements in order to maximise potential from the network, whilst potentially saving money in the process.

3. Cost

With increased scrutiny over IT investments within enterprises across the globe, many companies have discovered that the gap between their current vendor’s pricing and what they could achieve in a competitive environment has grown to unanticipated levels. Those that follow a multi-vendor approach can build a better network without unnecessary compromises, while saving substantial amounts of their total cost of ownership.

Gartner’s report entitled ‘The Disaggregation of the Enterprise Network’ uncovered that by considering a multi-vendor network approach, most enterprises were able to reduce their capital budgets by at least 30%, with a potential reduction in their total network equipment and operations costs of nearly 25%.

Adopting a multi-vendor approach can also enable scalability within the network, giving customers greater flexibility in terms of technology upgrades, rather than forcing a rip-and-replace scenario.

Best of both worlds

As trends such as BYOD, Personal Cloud and an AFN continue to develop, enterprises need to be ready to embrace a multi-vendor approach in order to get the best network infrastructure which best serves their employees’ needs.

At Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise, our multi-vendor approach is unique amongst infrastructure companies. We combine Citrix-Ready verification for key components of our Application Fluent Network solution with an expanded data centre switching ecosystem programme which significantly enhances performance and functionality of enterprise networks.

It is time for enterprises to sit up and take note of this transition from traditional data centre designs to forming cloud-ready networks – and going best-of-breed is the best way to do so.

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