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Guest View: Un-weave the hype around fabric computing

Bernie Trudel | Aug. 13, 2013
Fabric computing is, in a word, unified. It weaves together compute, networking, storage access and virtualisation into one cohesive system.

The tech sector loves a new buzzword. Company slogans or hyped-up products also come and go. I believe it's good to stay sceptical of what gets thrown around because when a truly powerful shift happens, you can see it more clearly. We are dead-centre in one of the greatest recent shifts in tech-infrastructure in recent times: unified data centre fabrics.

Imagine you wanted to get a coffee in the morning but to get the coffee you had to cross the street to buy it. Once you got there and paid, you then had to go over the street to get your change, leaving your coffee at the shop. By the time you got back it was cold and they had to make you another. Now imagine you pulled out your smartphone, opened a coffee-app, selected your order, the app automatically charged you, then your coffee was delivered quickly and hot. This is the shift to unified data centre fabrics.

To help provide context to the scale of this impact, Canalys has predicted that APAC's data centre infrastructure market will be worth US$152 billion by 2016[1]. Additionally, Gartner [2] has reported that fabric computing is on the radar for several IT groups and we are seeing companies across the region migrating to cloud based operations built on fabric data centres.

It's worth taking a step back and finding out what the fabric is in unified data centre fabrics to grasp why this is such a significant trend.

One cohesive system

Fabric computing is, in a word, unified. It weaves together compute, networking, storage access and virtualisation into one cohesive system. The term 'fabric' comes from its appearance; it is a visual weave of parts and cables.

The reason why fabric computing is so powerful is because it brings traditionally disparate, siloed processes into one unified system. Fabric allows you to reconfigure all system components at the same time. This reduces management time and cost by allowing you to manage previously disparate systems, holistically. 

Previously, data centres supporting cloud systems were large, complex and had numerous physical parts. This meant cloud data centres took up large amounts of space and required large amounts of power to run. A very expensive set up.

They were also difficult to upgrade. Fabrics are optimised for virtualisation, what this heavy sounding phrase means in a practical sense is that whenever you add new blade or rack server to your data centre, the time it takes for the server to come online is reduced from hours to minutes.

Fabric computing consolidates data centres by reducing what you physically have on premise and then connecting what you have with high-bandwidth connections. This saves both space and cost by increased energy efficiency and also allows your servers to do what they do best, deliver computing power.


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