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1.5 Introduction to next generation IT Datacenters

HomeStorage Area Networking1.5 Introduction to next generation IT Datacenters

The next generation of data centers is designed for cloud computing. These data centers are built on five layers: physical infrastructure, virtual infrastructure, software-defined infrastructure, orchestration, and services. Three additional functions—business continuity, security, and management—cut across these layers. This article explores what each layer and function does to create a fully automated and efficient cloud environment.


The next generation or modern IT Datacenter is basically a datacenter which is suitable for providing cloud services in a fully automated fashion by using software defined infrastructure resources. The next generation IT datacenter can be classified into five logical layers and three cross-layer functions. The five layers of next gen IT datacenters are

  • Physical infrastructure
  • Virtual infrastructure
  • Software defined infrastructure
  • Orchestration
  • Services

Each of the above layers has various types of hardware and/or software components and the three cross-layer functions are

  • Business continuity
  • Security
  • Management

Business continuity and security functions defines the processes that are required to provide reliable and secure access to applications, information, and services. Whereas the management function includes the processes that enable the efficient administration of the data center and the services for meeting business requirements. Below is the figure from EMC standards 3rd platform IT data center layers.

Datacenter Layers as per EMC
Datacenter Layers as per EMC

Functions of Modern Data Center Layers

Physical Layer: The physical layers consists the physical infrastructure which is the foundation layer of a data center. It includes equipment such as compute systems (servers), storage systems, and networking devices along with the operating systems, system software, protocols, and tools that enable the physical equipment to perform their functions. The main function of physical infrastructure is to process the requests generated by the virtual and software defined infrastructure like data storage, communication, running programs and taking backups.
Virtualization Layer: Virtualization is the process of abstracting physical resources, such as compute, storage, and network, and creating virtual resources from them. Virtualization is achieved through the use of virtualization software that is deployed on compute systems, storage systems, and network devices. Virtualization software aggregates physical resources into resource pools from which it creates virtual resources. A resource pool is an aggregation of computing resources, such as processing power, memory, storage, and network bandwidth.
 Virtualization enables a single hardware resource to support multiple concurrent instances of systems, or multiple hardware resources to support a single instance of system. For example, a single disk drive can be partitioned and presented as multiple disk drives to a compute system. Similarly, multiple disk drives can be concatenated and presented as a single disk drive to a compute system. With virtualization, it is also possible to make a resource appear larger or smaller than it actually is.
Software-defined Infrastructure Layer: The software-defined infrastructure layer is deployed either on the virtual layer or on the physical layer. In the software-defined approach, all infrastructure components are virtualized and aggregated into pools. This abstracts all underlying resources from applications. The software-defined approach enables ITaaS, in which consumers provision all infrastructure components as services. This layer enables the functions of a cloud computing.
Orchestration Layer: The orchestration layer includes the orchestration software. The key function of this layer is to provide workflows for executing automated tasks to accomplish a desired outcome. Workflow refers to a series of inter-related tasks that perform a business operation. The orchestration software enables this automated arrangement, coordination, and management of the tasks.
Service Layer: It is a means of delivering IT resources to the end users to enable them to achieve the desired business results and outcomes without having any liabilities such as risks and costs associated with owning the resources. Examples of services are application hosting, storage capacity, file services, and email. The service layer is accessible to applications and end users. This layer includes a service catalog that presents the information about all the IT resources being offered as services.
Business Continuity Layer: The business continuity function specifies the adoption of proactive and reactive measures that enable an organization to mitigate the impact of downtime due to planned and unplanned outages. The proactive measures include activities and processes such as business impact analysis, risk assessment, and technology solutions such as backup, archiving, and replication. The reactive measures include activities and processes such as disaster recovery and disaster restart to be invoked in the event of a service failure. This function supports all the layers such as physical, virtual, software-defined, orchestration, and services layers to provide uninterrupted services to the consumers.
Security Layer: The security function supports all the infrastructure layers physical, virtual, software-defined, orchestration, and service layers to provide secure services to the consumers. Security specifies the adoption of administrative and technical mechanisms that mitigate or minimize the security threats and provide a secure data center environment.
Management Layer: The management layer function specifies the adoption of activities related to data center operations management. Adoption of these activities enables an organization to align the creation and delivery of IT services to meet their business objectives.

Storage operation management enables IT administrators to manage the data center infrastructure and services. Storage operation management tasks include handling of infrastructure configuration, resource provisioning, problem resolution, capacity, availability, and compliance conformance. This function supports all the layers to perform monitoring, management, and reporting for the entities of the infrastructure.

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Anil K Y Ommi
Anil K Y Ommi
Cloud Solutions Architect with more than 15 years of experience in designing & deploying application in multiple cloud platforms.

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