NextGen Networking
Juniper Employee , Juniper Employee Juniper Employee
NextGen Networking
Taxonomy of the Data Center: There is no “one size fits all” data center product line
Nov 9, 2010

Juniper has been designing and enabling many of the world’s data centers for quite awhile now, and we have learned some interesting things.  First and foremost, there is no one single type of data center.  Likewise, there is no “one size fits all” data center product line.  The architecture of a data center varies considerably depending on the applications it is designed to support. In order to best serve all the different kinds of data centers, we have created a taxonomy to define the various types of data centers and what they need to be successful.


To start, data centers can be divided into two major categories—cost centers and profit centers.


Cost Center data centers are traditional IT departments.  They contain a company’s IT assets—payroll, email, MRP, finance, internal web, development.  They are responsible for the continuity of legacy applications as well as all new applications for internal use.  IT data center managers are very concerned about operational efficiency and costs, and they are judged on their ability to cut costs while maintaining or increasing services to company personnel.  They prefer to purchase the same switching, routing and security products for each part of their network.  Cost management, operational efficiency and consistency and stability are the keys for network purchase and deployment in this type of data center. IT data centers are evolved as new technology becomes required.


Profit Center data centers, also called Production data centers, exist to make money.  They provide services which directly produce revenue. Their goal is to grow and evolve as quickly as possible to provide the most competitive offerings for their companies.  Production data center managers focus on performance and scaling.  They take risks and deploy new technologies if they have the potential to increase revenue.  Production data center managers are judged on their ability to identify and deploy the most competitive solutions.  Scaling with speed and performance with growth are the keys for network purchase and deployment.  Production networks are commissioned based upon current best solutions and run until a significantly better option can be identified. 


The differentiation among data centers does not stop there.  There are further subdivisions of IT and production data centers.


IT data centers are related to campus and branch networks. Services and communications supported by the central IT location need to extend to the campus and branch. IT data center personnel frequently manage the campus and branch as well as the IT data centers. They prefer one comprehensive set of switching, routing and security devices, all managed under the same umbrella.  When they upgrade, all related devices must be upgraded at the same time.  Version control is very important when the same device is deployed in many locations.


There are differences between large IT data centers (which support multiple sites and multiple geographies), medium IT data centers (which support a single geography) and small IT data centers (generally located in a single site).


Production data centers have five different variations:


  1. Financial/High-Performance Compute
  2. Over-the-top content – provides content over the top of service provider networks
  3. Service provider content – provides content over their own networks
  4. Cloud services
  5. Hosting

Production data centers vary based on transaction or computation speed,  scale and distribution of content, management of last mile of network (or not), formal service-level agreements, and level of platform management.


Check back here in the coming weeks as I provide some real-world examples of each type of data center and the networking equipment these companies choose to suit their specific needs.