New data centre principles help organisations work smarter and strive for an environment where any IT asset can be managed securely from anywhere. With that in mind, CDW has compiled some sample recommendations to help this fictitious consumer goods company transform its IT operations into a strategic corporate asset.

• Move applications off desktop clients to server farms. Resulting benefits would include the ability to facilitate secure remote access; improve network manageability and reliability; ease upgrades and new software deployments; enhance support capabilities; and give IT managers more network control.
• Consider a Citrix environment, which would be suitable for accomplishing these objectives.

• Consolidate the Wintel environment onto high-performance eight- or 16-way Intel servers running virtualisation software.

• Implement a Fibre Channel-based storage-area network in Boston to accept replication from the Fibre Channel-based SAN in New York. The Fibre Channel-based SANs also would act as back-end storage for the Intel servers running virtualisation software. (While Fibre Channel-based SANs can be complex and expensive, performance benefits - especially compared with IP SANs - would outweigh costs.)

• Use terminal service software, such as Citrix MetaFrame, for on-demand access and single sign-on password capabilities. The centralised architecture would provide the greatest efficiency for management of resources.

• Deploy storage resource management software to clean up redundant and legacy data that the company no longer needs.

• Back up to disk using a Virtual Tape Library device in concert with back-up software, then offload to tape. This would expedite backups.

• Implement an information life-cycle management strategy to prioritise data so that it is stored on the most appropriate media for saving money and for regulation compliance.

• Use multiple carriers that can each offer a QoS-based service-level agreement (SLA). This would allow carrier redundancy among mirrored environments, providing alternate backbone routes in the event of carrier failure.

• Link each data centre to the corporate WAN via a global MPLS architecture to improve capacity, speed and quality of voice and data transmissions.

• Deploy a Tier-1 backbone between sites and offer a SLA for packet loss, jitter and latency.

• Consolidate to a single PBX brand.

• Establish a common PBX architecture that includes WAN upgrades that feature lowest cost routing and MPLS.

• Implement a video bridge with distributed endpoints in the WAN.

Global recommendations
• Deploy facility management software such as Datatrax Forseer or APC InfraStruXure to integrate UPS, generators, power strips, A/C and other facility devices into one manageable GUI.

• Implement racks with vented front and rear doors, and use three-phase power strips to help minimise costs of balancing loads within racks and on power circuits. These racks would allow for temperature and humidity monitoring.

In the New York and Boston data centres
• Install a generator with an automatic transfer switch for long-term runtime.

The upshot: This company can effectively transform its IT operations into a strategic corporate asset by widely embracing new data centre technologies and principles.

• Install a UPS on any outlying distribution switches and at the desktops.

• Use online/double conversion UPS to condition power fully and ensure no interference with IP telephony or harmonics.

• Install an online/double conversion UPS to condition power from a utility or generator and to provide transitional uptime when a power outage hits.

• Install computer room A/C system in conjunction with a raised floor environment to address heat and humidity concerns.

In the Sydney and London data centres
• Use UPS at the desktop and remote switch levels.

• Use generators depending on office size.

• Use modular UPS for the server room and core switching/telephony equipment.

• Use raised flooring and A/C solution as in New York.

• Create and enforce corporate security policies, including for wireless users and for exchanging corporate data with partners/suppliers.

• Decide on a standard data centre operating system to enable a central management option for patching and maintaining systems.

• Upgrade VPNs to current-generation service/security routers. This would allow for faster throughputs and high availability for incoming multi-carrier lines.

• Deploy a high-throughput intrusion-prevention system to prevent bottlenecks in front of the server farm and malicious traffic from getting into CRM systems. Alternatively, add an intrusion-detection system blade on some switches to help maintain core speeds.

• On the Web server side, use an application-intelligent firewall to offer improved traffic reporting and prevent Web attacks.

These CDW technical speciality team members can be reached at [email protected].