IBM Centers Offer Hands-On Time With Latest Data Center Tech
A symbolic data cloud is seen at the IBM stand at the 2014 CeBIT technology Trade fair on March 10, 2014 in Hanover, Germany. CeBIT is the world’s largest technology fair and the year’s partner nation was Great Britain. (Photo by Nigel Treblin/Getty Images)

IBM Centers Offer Hands-On Time With Latest Data Center Tech

New innovation centers in Dallas and Nice give system administrators exposure to latest SDN, virtualiation, and IT automation products

As part of an effort to help IT organizations make the transition to more modern data center environments, IBM has opened two Network Innovation Data Centers located in Dallas and Nice, France.

Rick Qualman, vice president of networking services for IBM, says the goal is provide customers’ IT teams with hands-on access to next-generation data center technology, including software-defined network (SDN), virtualization, and IT automation, that are being used to drive cloud computing deployments.

A big part of this effort is to expose IT administrators to not only emerging technologies inside their fields of expertise, but also expose them to adjacent technologies that they will need to inevitably become more familiar with in the age of the hybrid cloud, adds Qualman.

“IT organizations need to manage resource on an end-to-end bases versus thinking in terms of silos of domain,” says Qualman.

Beyond getting exposed to IBM products and services, the two facilities include data center technology from Brocade, Cisco, Citrix, Juniper Networks, Riverbed, and VMware.

The Dallas data center is about 15,000 square feet, while the facility in Nice has about 19,000 square feet of space. All told, IBM says there is enough room to add an additional 20 racks to each facility as interest in the Network Innovation Centers grows.

In addition, IBM says it can also invoke additional cloud services provided by its SoftLayer cloud service unit on demand as needed.

As new as the technologies that IBM is showcasing are, the real challenge facing IT operations teams is realigning roles inside their organizations. Almost by definition the convergence of SDNs, new forms of virtualization such as containers and IT automation are making it possible for administrators to manage unprecedented amounts of IT infrastructure at scale.

In addition, the days when administrators were dedicated specifically to servers, compute, and networking are coming to an end. IT admins may have expertise in one area more than another, but in general they are all increasingly being asked to be able to manage all aspects of the data center.

Rather than approaching that transition in a haphazard way, Qualman says, IBM is making it possible for administrators to see firsthand how these technologies intersect with one another without requiring IT organizations to make capital investments before they have the skills needed to actually benefit from them.

The degree to which each organization will migrate to next-generation IT infrastructure will, of course, vary. But the one thing that everyone should be able to benefit from perhaps is a whole lot less trial and error when it comes to making that transition.

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