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Emerging IT and Data Center Trends in 2013

Software defined networks (SDNs) will move from hype and vision to implementation

Many companies and enterprises in 2012 witnessed the proliferation of network data as a huge and growing problem across data centers. Additional data center solutions were needed to access, process, analyze, and deliver it instantly on a global basis to millions of users. Several advances and solutions help address these problems and issues. However, data centers are continuing to grow.

According to the 2012 Data Center Industry Census, data centers are expected to grow from US$105 billion to US$120 billion in 2013(DatacenterDynamics. [Oct. 2012]. The 2012 DatacenterDynamics Industry Census). Given this continued growth, more improvements and innovations will be made in the IT and data center industry as 2013 approaches. The following outlines several trends that will emerge and come to fruition in 2013:

1. The Network Adapter Walk of Fame: The Democratization of Hollywood
Digital media (movie editing, CGI, pre-production, broadcast, etc.) is rapidly adopting new IT infrastructure. Film and music video companies are adopting 10GbE network attached storage and application acceleration. Hollywood film editors are now winning Academy Awards not only on vertical solutions with million dollar price tags but also with Apple's FinalCut Pro running on cost-effective Mac workstations. This trend has been driven by the availability of digital media hardware and software technology such as 4K cameras that enable small companies to develop and deliver quality HD content at 1/20 the cost of previous technologies.

2. Intel Down But Not Out
Intel's client business is stalled and the company has not yet made a big win in mobile. Netbooks died a quick, well-deserved death. But in the high-end server segment, during 2013 we should see Intel make sense of all of its high-speed interconnect acquisitions. Just like its support and innovation around Thunderbolt and Lightpeak, we can expect to see products coming from the Cray HPC interconnect, Fulcrum and QLogic acquisitions driving the growth of high-end server, workstation and HPC cluster markets.

3. To Infinity and Beyond: What's after the x86 Architecture?
Customers do have problems with the X86 architecture lacking the ability to directly address performance issues in such areas as graphics, gaming, visualization of seismic data, high-speed analytics to catch threats to national security, as well as real-time packet inspection and Big Data on large-scale clusters using MapReduce. However, various high-performance platforms and tools such as GPUs, cell processors, and FPGAs are available to address parallelization and acceleration techniques. Modern FPGAs represent much more than a multitude of configurable logic gates. They can now justifiably be referred to as a system on a chip (SoC), when integrated with multi-core processors and a rich set of peripherals. During 2013, modern tools such as OpenCL from Altera and open FPGA application acceleration platforms will enable engineers with little hardware experience to write parallel algorithms and execute embedded designs with FPGAs.

4. SDNs, From Hyperbole to Hope
In 2013, software defined networks (SDNs) will move from hype and vision to implementation. Google has already implemented an SDN WAN.

Other Web 2.0 companies are using SDN as a component of their multi-tenant data centers. In the coming year, companies and enterprises of all sizes will be attracted to the promise of building their networks with SDN components. They will be able to move away from closed proprietary switch and router hardware and use horizontal, open networking interfaces running on cost-effective merchant silicon. Agility and security will be key to their success.

5. Clouds: From Vapor to Business Value
Clouds have always been more about a new business model than new products and technologies. To date, Amazon has had the most successful B2B cloud implementation. With the availability of SDNs and other tools, more small and medium businesses will outsource compute and services to public clouds, while IT managers at large Fortune 100 enterprises will build hybrid clouds serving internal clients and external customers. Inevitably, as more valuable individual and corporate data moves to these clouds, bad guys will attempt to gain access to private information, making security even more vital.

6. The Need for Real-Time Security at Web 2.0 Speed
In this brave new world, IT managers and security architects will need to implement data loss prevention, intrusion detection and intrusion prevention schemes that operate in real time. Embedded network security systems using the latest FGPAs deployed as bumps in the wire in distributed security architecture will be the ideal response to this challenge.

From cloud and SDN solidifying their role in IT, to networking becoming a key component in entertainment, 2013 will be designated the "Year of IT and data centers." More organizations will implement data center technology while making more strategic IT decisions to increase successes.

More Stories By Bruce Tolley

Bruce Tolley, PhD, is Vice President, Solutions and Outbound Marketing, at Solarflare. Previously, he served as Solarflare's Vice President of Marketing, and earlier Director of Product Management. Prior to joining Solarflare, Tolley was a Senior Product Line Manager at Cisco Systems where he managed the Ethernet transceiver business, and launched Layer 2/3/4, Metro Ethernet, 10 Gigabit switches. Prior to Cisco, he served in various marketing management roles at 3Com Corporation.

Formerly Study Group Chair of the IEEE 802.3aq 10GBASE-LRM standards project, Tolley has been frequent contributor to the IEEE 802.3 Ethernet standards projects. He holds a BA from UC Santa Cruz, MA from Stanford University, MBA from Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley, and a PhD from Stanford University.

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