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Technical Drivers for Cloud Computing

An impressive group of technical advancements are boosting adoption of cloud computing. These technologies bring advantages to IT, but collectively, they create a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts:

Blade servers: Blade servers have been around for several years, but as companies have been relying increasingly on data centres, they have increased in importance. The ability to stack multiple servers in a small space makes cabling, management and maintenance less cumbersome.

Virtualization: Adding virtualization to blade servers is also rewriting the rules of capacity utilization and redundancy. Because virtualization technology lets IT use server capacity more fully, IT has fewer servers to manage (and pay for). Because virtualization lets IT offload capacity in an on-demand, at-will fashion, IT can more easily set up virtualized off-site systems that support business continuity. This capability also supports hybrid cloud scenarios.

Networking technology: This, too, is evolving, with the move to Ethernet fabrics such as Cisco's Unified Computing System. With a single data-center network transport—one that can simultaneously transmit IP and Fibre Channel traffic over a single connection—IT has more options. Along with sophisticated new management capabilities, it gets high performance, low latency, robust security and lossless transmission. At a time when IT is dealing with the moves to virtualization on thousands of devices, transition to 10Gb Ethernet (while still supporting support legacy servers and applications), and the reduction of power and cooling overhead, it needs a more efficient network to simplify its workload.

Automation: One of the most complex facets of new technology is its management, and virtualization wouldn't be such a plus if IT had to shift workloads manually. Automating the daily provisioning activities associated with customer registration, multitenant segmentation, and virtual machine placement minimizes recurring costs. Also, service providers such as PAETEC can provide a multitenant infrastructure that enables them to offer service on a per-customer, per-virtual machine basis.