Home > Articles > Data Center Architecture and Technologies in the Cloud

Data Center Architecture and Technologies in the Cloud

  • Sample Chapter is provided courtesy of Cisco Press.
  • Date: Mar 20, 2012.

Chapter Description

This chapter provides an overview of the architectural principles and infrastructure designs needed to support a new generation of real-time-managed IT service use cases in the data center.

This chapter provides an overview of the architectural principles and infrastructure designs needed to support a new generation of real-time-managed IT service use cases in the data center. There are many process frameworks and technologies available to architects to deliver a service platform that is both flexible and scalable. From an operational perspective, maintaining visibility and control of the data center that meets the business's governance, risk, and compliance needs is a must. This chapter will discuss the building blocks, technologies, and concepts that help simplify the design and operation, yet deliver real IT value to the business, namely, business continuity and business change.


Architecture is a borrowed term that is often overused in technology forums. The Oxford English Dictionary defines architecture as "the art or practice of designing and constructing buildings" and further, "the conceptual structure and logical organization of a computer or computer-based system."

In general, outside the world of civil engineering, the term architecture is a poorly understood concept. Although we can understand the concrete concept of a building and the process of building construction, many of us have trouble understanding the more abstract concepts of a computer or a network and, similarly, the process of constructing an IT system like a service platform. Just like buildings, there are many different kinds of service platforms that draw upon and exhibit different architectural principles.

As an example of early architectural prinicples, requirements and/or guidelines (also known as artifacts), Figure 3-1 depicts the the famous drawing of Leonardo Da Vinci's "Vitruvian Man." We are told that the drawing is based on the ideas of a Roman Architect Marcus Vitruvius Pollio that a "perfect building" should be based on the fact (the mainly Christian religious idea) that man is created in the image of God and thus provides the blueprint of "proportional perfection" (that is, the relationship between the length of one body part to another is a constant fixed ratio). It was believed that these ratios can serve as a set of architectural principles when it comes to building design; thus, a "perfect building" can be acheived. Obviously, our ideas on architecture and design are much more secular and science-based today. That said, the Vitruvian Man provides a good a example of the relationship of architecture to design and its implimentation.

Figure 3-1

Figure 3-1 Leonardo da Vinci's Vitruvian Man (Named After the Ancient Roman Architect Vitruvius)

Even though architecture involves some well-defined activities, our first attempt at a definition uses the words art along with science. Unfortunately, for practical purposes, this definition is much too vague. But, one thing the definition does indirectly tell us is that architecture is simply part of the process of building things. For example, when building a new services platform, it is being built for a purpose and, when complete, is expected to have certain required principles.

The purpose of a "service delivery platform" is usually described to an architect by means of requirements documents that provide the goals and usage information for the platform that is to be built. Architects are typically individuals who have extensive experience in building IT systems that meet specific business requirements and translating those business requirements into IT engineering requirements. It is then up to subject matter experts (for example, server virtualization, networking, or storage engineers) to interpret the high-level architectural requirements into a low-level design and ultimately implement (build) a system ready for use. Figure 3-2 shows the many-to-one relationship among architecture, design, and implementations. Note that clear and well-understood communication among all stakeholders is essential throughout the project delivery phases to ensure success.

Figure 3-2

Figure 3-2 Architecture Shapes the Design and Implementation of a System and/or Service

Therefore, architecture is primarily used to communicate future system behavior to stakeholders and specify the building blocks for satisfying business requirements (this data is normally referred to as artifacts). A stakeholder is usually a person who pays for the effort and/or uses the end result. For example, a stakeholder could be the owner or a tenant of a future service platform, or a business owner or user of an anticipated network. Architecture blueprints are frequently used to communicate attributes of the system to the stakeholders before the system is actually built. In fact, the communication of multiple attributes usually requires multiple architecture documentation or blueprints. Unfortunately, architecture diagrams (usually multiple drawings) are often used incorrectly as design diagrams or vice versa.

With regard to cloud services, architecture must extend beyond on-premises (private cloud) deployments to support hybrid cloud models (hosted cloud, public cloud, community cloud, virtual private cloud, and so on). Architecture must also take into consideration Web 2.0 technologies (consumer social media services) and data access ubiquity (mobility).

Architectural principles that are required for a services platform today would most likely include but not be limited to efficiency, scalability, reliability, interoperability, flexibility, robustness, and modularity. How these principles are designed and implemented into a solution changes all the time as technology evolves.

With regard to implementing and managing architecture, process frameworks and methodologies are now heavily utilized to ensure quality and timely delivery by capitalizing of perceived industry best practices. Chapter 6, "Cloud Management Reference Architecture," covers frameworks in detail.

At this point, it is worth taking a few moments to discuss what exactly "IT value" is from a business perspective. Measuring value from IT investments has traditionally been an inexact science. The consequence is that many IT projects fail to fulfill their anticipated goals. Thus, many CIOs/CTOs today do not have much confidence in the accuracy of total cost of ownership (TCO), or more so, return on investment (ROI) modeling related to potential IT investments. A number of academic research projects with industry partnership have been conducted to look at better ways to approach this challenge.

One example would be the IT Capability Maturity Framework (IT-CMF), developed by the Innovation Value Institute (http://ivi.nuim.ie/ITCMF/index.shtml) along with Intel. Essentially, the IT-CMF provides a "capabilities maturity curve" (five levels of maturity) with a number of associated strategies aimed at delivering increasing IT value, thus ultimately supporting the business to maintain or grow sustainable differentiation in the marketplace.

The concept of capability maturity stems from the Software Engineering Institute (SEI), which originally developed what is known as the Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI). In addition to the aforementioned IT-CMF, organizations can use the CMMI to map where they stand with respect to the best-in-class offering in relation to defined IT processes within Control Objectives for Information and Related Technology (COBIT) or how-to best practice guides like ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library provides best practice for IT service management). Chapter 4, "IT Services," covers COBIT in detail.

2. Architectural Building Blocks of a Data Center | Next Section

Cisco Press Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from Cisco Press and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about Cisco Press products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites; develop new products and services; conduct educational research; and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@ciscopress.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by Cisco Press. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.ciscopress.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020