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What are the Inherent Risks in New Data Center Initiatives?

Data Center Network DiagramAs the proliferation of cloud services, rich media, and enterprise applications elevate expectations for data center throughput, reliability, and availability, the limits of what a network infrastructure can sustain are too often pushed over the edge.

Networks are also targeted by spam, viruses, malware, and hackers hunting for sensitive data. They’re vulnerable from within by the increase in telecommuting or employees bringing their own gear into the workplace unintentionally creating security threats. Then there’s the risk of a power outage, an equipment failure, a planned upgrade, or a configuration error bringing down part or all of your services.

It’s possible to proactively address a lot of these potential sources of failure. An intrusion prevention system can address the external threats. But how can you know if it’ll actually stop malicious activity or how it affects network performance and user quality of experience? Redundant systems can address power outages, hardware failures, and congestion, but how can you know if it will failover to the backup system or circuit under the desired conditions? And how can you know ahead of time how a hardware or software upgrade will affect your network?

Then there are the deeper, subtler sources of failure—a network designed with an invalid assumption or implemented with a hidden flaw, an RFP decision made by comparing the specifications on vendor proposals. Do any silver bullets exist to help avoid these potential disasters?

The single answer to all these questions is: Testing.

Testing is the key to reliability and availability and the assurance of a solution’s viability. Inadequate testing, however, causes more problems than not testing by creating a false sense of security. Proper, qualified testing, based on industry best-practices, developed over time through proven experience and expertise, allow organizations to test and deploy data center networks with confidence.

The alternatives to not testing on the other hand, are too often very sobering. So what’s really at stake? What are some of the examples of real-world mishaps?

 
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