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MYTH OR REALITY: The Physical Layer is the Most Static and Stable Area of the Data Center
OnPATH Technologies, a provider of leading automated connectivity solutions that enable a virtual infrastructure layer (VIL), utilized 20 years of experience solving complex data center physical layer challenges to compile a list of infrastructure insights that highlight common industry misconceptions about the physical layer.

The top five myths about the physical layer of data centers include:
. Myth #1: The physical layer of a data center is static and as a result, problem-free.
o Reality: The physical layer is stressed every time new equipment is introduced, old equipment is removed, or existing equipment and cables are moved at a data center. Tangled and fragile cables, plugs and wiring can physically limit your ability to scale and consolidate- and most are not monitored for health and usage.  Up to 70% of network downtime can be attributed to cabling problems.1

. Myth #2: Most data center infrastructure issues are easily solved in the upper network layers or through virtualization of the endpoint devices.
o Reality: Cables, patch panels, media converters, and monitoring equipment/software all reside at the physical layer. As a result, many physical layer issues cannot be efficiently managed or resolved at the network level. From a virtualization perspective, many virtualized solutions focus on the provisioning, managing and monitoring applications, servers, network equipment, and storage. These solutions assume the physical layer is designed with ample connectivity, bandwidth, and the necessary degree of fault tolerance.  Unfortunately, as data centers grow and change, that's not the case.

. Myth #3: The physical layer is generally secure and tighter security efforts are more necessary at the network layer.
o Reality: Human error can easily lead to a security breach- a single misplugged cable can potentially transfer highly-confidential data outside the data center's firewall. FBI statistics show 80% of data theft and security breach incidents occur at the physical layer.2 Zoning and logical partitioning of the network can also be implemented in a more robust fashion at the physical infrastructure layer.

. Myth #4: International enterprises must replicate their data centers around the globe to ensure continuous and accessible operations.
o Reality: By virtualizing the physical layer, data centers can achieve the same "follow the sun" approach, which allows IT staff in remote locations to utilize the same centralized equipment regardless of its physical location. This approach reduces costs by maximizing use of centralized IT equipment and minimizing unnecessary duplication.

. Myth #5: Current server and storage growth rates (11% and 22% respectively3), along with unprecedented growth in new data center construction, make it impractical to strive for a green initiative for IT power reduction. 
o Reality: Virtualizing the physical infrastructure layer of the data center and global network can help offset growing data center equipment demands for power.  An IBM study indicates virtualization and other technology improvements can reduce energy costs at an average data center by 42%.4

"For many years the physical layer has been ignored. And yet, it's the main source of a lot of management time and network downtime," says Peter Dougherty, President and CEO of OnPATH Technologies. "By virtualizing the physical layer, data centers achieve end-to-end virtualization that will ultimately help reduce operation costs, help provide a real-time infrastructure, and meet green initiatives."

Creating a VIL improves efficiency, mitigates downtime and re-configuration time, improves data center manageability and lowers total cost of ownership. A VIL automates, simplifies, secures and solidifies the physical interconnectivity of data center equipment.

To learn more about VIL and its benefits or request the company's latest white paper: Simplifying Data Centers & Networks by Creating a Virtual Infrastructure Layer, visit OnPATH's website, at www.onpathtech.com.
Published Tuesday, December 11, 2007 10:27 PM by David Marshall
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