Cloud Managed Service Provider Selects Brocade Ethernet Fabric Technology to Support Service Growth and Demand

Founded in 1995, Oncore IT has vast experience delivering and managing critical IT infrastructure for clients operating from the most secure data centers in London and Amsterdam. With client retention rates of 95 percent, Oncore IT has a proven track record working in legal, financial and enterprise vertical markets providing a variety of hosting, co-location and cloud-based services — all guaranteed by service level agreements and solutions managed 365/24/7 by technical experts and dedicated account managers.

Paul Cook, Oncore IT’s head of sales and marketing, said, “While the market is still buzzing with interest around the cloud, to address the reservations people have about it, service providers must take total responsibility for their cloud solutions given customer expectations about high service levels. Data center networking infrastructure is key to achieving this, and our investment in Brocade is all about making the necessary performance improvements using proven, best-of-breed equipment so as to stay ahead and deliver a truly exceptional cloud experience. We didn’t just want to improve performance, but instead go a step further and guarantee it, which is what we’ve done.”

With Oncore IT successfully migrating more and more of its customers to a cloud model, it faced the subsequent challenges of data growth on its network, a greater number of virtualized and hosted solutions all requiring shared storage, along with 90 percent of its customers utilizing a virtualized server farm for online backup and disaster recovery solutions. To address these challenges, the company needed to upgrade its switch environment. Oncore IT had last done so four years prior, and the previous switch infrastructure was struggling to meet the service levels required for virtual machine performance, backup times and shared storage.

Brocade Ethernet fabrics are designed to improve network utilization, maximize application availability, increase scalability and dramatically simplify network architectures in highly virtualized data centers. In addition to simplifying the network environment, the new Ethernet fabric deployment will provide 10 Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) performance to boost Oncore IT’s network capacity to meet increasing bandwidth demands.

Mick Caney, Oncore IT’s technical lead, explained the impact from an IT delivery perspective, stating, “At peak times, network traffic was becoming a little ‘bursty’ and we would experience some packet loss that affected performance. The issue was most pronounced when servers were accessing our HDS BlueArc [NAS/iSCSI] storage platform over the network. Latency was too high and throughput wasn’t truly wire-speed. The upgrade to the Brocade VDX-based Ethernet fabric has solved this issue plus given us a scalable platform for future growth.”

Oncore IT has created two 10 GbE fabrics — one in London and the other at Oncore IT’s replicated data centre in Amsterdam — using eight Brocade VDX 6710 and two Brocade VDX 6720 switches. After a seamless rollout, the project is now complete and the switches in production delivering exactly what Oncore IT wanted.

Caney said, “Brocade Ethernet fabric technology is allowing Oncore IT to begin the move away from spanning tree protocol, which can become difficult to manage as networks grow. These factors, combined with ‘virtual chassis’ technology and full support for next-generation network technologies, like Converged Enhanced Ethernet and Data Centre Bridging, were instrumental in Oncore IT’s decision to go with the Brocade VDX platform.”

The “virtual chassis” capability means Oncore IT can locate different individual switches throughout a building and aggregate them together so they function as one physical chassis. This increases flexibility in terms of how equipment is managed throughout the data center sites, given the fact that there are suites of switches on multiple floors.

While the primary goal of the project was an engineering one to enhance performance, there will also be commercial advantages. Cook explained, “For our established SME customers, most need only two or three ports for connectivity. An additional benefit of the Brocade upgrade is that clients can now take switch ports from us — and pay per port — with their servers then linked to our Ethernet fabric. It is a win-win for everyone. We benefit as our infrastructure is easier to manage, network performance is guaranteed and customers can save money by using our switch environment if they want to, rather than buying their own.”

Alberto Soto, vice president EMEA at Brocade, commented, “Clearly enterprises are interested in the cloud as a way of solving a wide range of seemingly mutually exclusive challenges — accessing higher-performing and more robust IT solutions, improving commercial agility, minimizing operational complexity and reducing cost. From a service provider perspective, the key is all about guaranteeing delivery given the fact that customers become totally reliant on their partner when in the cloud. This new approach shows how companies at the forefront of delivering cloud solutions, like Oncore IT, are turning to Brocade for the network performance they need to ensure this.”

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