Multi-vendor solutions in data centres: Are they worth it?

We consider if the multi-vendor solution route is the best route for data centres, with insights from specialist Manfred Felsberg from Juniper Networks

As data centre decision makers review their solutions for 2024, it looks as though many are looking to implement multi-vendor solutions to improve overall operations.

Whilst the single-vendor approach has often been viewed as the best way to simplify the process of building and managing a data centre, while significantly reducing costs, there has been plenty of debate over the years if this is actually the path forward.

With those within the sector searching for new solutions to best optimise their data centre operations, they need larger amounts of data and IT infrastructure to support their digital transformation. A multi-vendor approach may be able to offer them this.

Some organisations depend on multi-vendor models

It is apparent that some data centre companies require high levels of power and multi-functionality for their IT infrastructure that is too much for one vendor to provide.

Other industries in the technology sector have argued that this approach is preferable moving forward, with Vector Technologies CEO Mateusz Sulikowski arguing that fibre access networks must embrace integration by using multi-vendor solutions to “scale efficiencies and spur innovation.”

One of the crucial benefits that multi-vendor solutions can offer is greater flexibility and lower costs. Often, the needs of an organisation or data centre will evolve and so multi-vendor support is able to provide these companies the flexibility to introduce new vendors without negatively impacting their operations.

Similarly, this could lead to reduced complexity when servicing equipment, for example. The organisation can hold a single point of contact for maintenance for all equipment with the multi-vendor option. It arguably makes transition within the data centre easier.

With this in mind, it could be an attractive option for companies wishing to expand their global data centre portfolio.

A more affordable option for data centres? Felsberg explains

Manfred Felsberg, Senior Director Specialist for Data Centres for Juniper Networks, explores some of the benefits of multi-vendor solutions.

He says: “When it comes to data centres, many IT teams choose networking systems based on the right box for required features, vendor diversity and in some cases, even the vendors’ lead times. These decisions revolve around choosing a networking solution that is tailored to their unique requirements. 

“However, to get the most from available solutions, many IT teams are now opting for a multi-vendor philosophy, delivering the benefits from various solutions.

He continues: “To configure a data centre, IT teams must look to a single source of truth, a database outside the network which stores all the information required for management and operation. Combining systems can sometimes create a degree of complexity as the vendors’ equipment is typically not interoperable. 

“Therefore, many teams within data centres either configure their own vendor-agnostic automated network or use a software-only, multi-vendor networking solution that automates data centre network design, build, deployment and operation. As configuring their own system is costly, time-consuming and laborious, choosing a vendor agnostic solution is the easiest option.

“Vendor-agnostic systems give teams the flexibility to easily configure their systems without a cumbersome validation process,” he says. “This ultimately means that a site can be up and running within a few hours rather than days or weeks. Organisations are released from the shackles of single vendor dependency and can capitalise on the required features on their premises.

“IT decision-makers are often looking for a method of implementing automation but are unsure where to start. By using a vendor-agnostic solution, they can start their automation process, without carrying out a major technical re-fit or needing extensive expertise. This improves data centre efficiency almost immediately.”

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