The ethernet in today’s data centre networks is unlike ethernet technology of the past. New applications carry traffic for web services, client/server, unified communications, virtual machines and storage – each application has a different traffic pattern and network service requirements.A recent global Gartner study indicated today’s CIOs remain focused on improving business processes and cost savings, but are planning ahead for improved productivity levels, innovation, competitive advantage and increased numbers of new customers. Here in New Zealand, the demands of the enterprise are the same as the rest of the world. Data centre networks need to deploy new applications quickly and efficiently, provide fast and reliable ‘round-the clock’ access to information, meet or exceed stringent service levels with zero downtime – all while driving down costs by maximising investments. In short, IT must now move at the speed of business to capitalise on meeting these requirements and maximise the new opportunities available for resellers today.High-density, multi-core servers, as well as network, server and storage virtualisation are the technology enablers that address these business needs. Data centres can leverage this set of technologies to pool IT resources and implement cloud architectures that reduce capital and operational expenditures, and at the same time create an infrastructure that rapidly scales and responds to business needs.When data centres leverage these technologies, new networking challenges arise that were not present when applications were tied to physical servers. This means the network must evolve and move from management of physical ports to a virtual environment. It must be simpler to operate, more flexible, highly resilient and much more scalable. These requirements are best met with scalable ethernet and storage fabrics.Customers are also looking to deploy either ‘open’ or ‘closed’ compute blocks in these highly virtualised environments. Open compute blocks provide the ability to choose technology – server, hypervisor, network and storage – typically delivering the best technologies at the most competitive price. These blocks can be customised for different environments, application needs, and price/performance requirements. Closed compute blocks on the other hand have predetermined configurations with a single vendor server and network with limited storage options, driving up cost.Data Centre Channel OpportunitiesFor those of us working in the sales channel in New Zealand, the ability to offer cloud-optimised networking options for decision makers will be well supported by choosing the ethernet fabric option.Private cloud remains the fastest growing segment of the cloud networking market around the world. Early adopter verticals including financial services, government, manufacturing and high technology will continue to invest in the competitive advantages provided by the cloud.Sales channel representatives need to work with their clients to identify the drivers behind the purchase decisions for a range of ethernet fabric solutions. Enterprises across almost all verticals can incorporate virtualised data centre switches as an ethernet top-of-rack solution to produce an immediate reduction in IT overheads and simplified management requirement. Ethernet fabric customer implementations can quickly adopt cloud architecture in a high performance, fully utilised, mid to large enterprise environment. There is even an ethernet fabric solution for enterprise environments looking to converge their LAN/SAN requirements and produce a single network environment.For the sales channel seeking to maximise its return in this new network infrastructure environment, it is imperative to take advantage of the full range of education, support and professional partnerships on offer. You will need support to help clients ‘crawl, walk or run’ to a new operating environment. Business needs of data centres will continue to evolve and collaboration with a higher performance technology should stand you and your clients in good stead for the future.