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Cabling becoming more important in flattened data center networks

By Donna Donnawitz
July 13, 2012
There are many ways to flatten data center network architectures, but the overarching goal of the process is to remove one, and sometimes two, of the networking tiers that traffic has to flow through within a facility. According to a recent Cabling Installation & Maintenance report, the rise of virtualization has made traditional three-tier networks inefficient in many settings, making a flattened architecture more attractive.

The news source explained that the traditional data center network features a tier in which servers connect to access switches. The next layer involves establishing a link between access switches and an aggregation switch. From there, the final tier is attaching aggregation switches to core switches. In this setup, each piece of data sent through the facility travels through multiple switches prior to reaching its destination.

In the past, this may have been a useful paradigm, but virtualization is changing the data center on multiple levels. The report said virtualization inherently puts more stress on switching systems because it stores more data in less server hardware, forcing fewer switches to handle more throughput. In some cases, the bandwidth increase can be overwhelming. In the layered architecture, this challenge grows exponentially with more data traveling between servers and having to go through multiple switches on different layers throughout the entire process.

To overcome this, the news source said more data center operators are turning to flattened Ethernet architectures that remove the redundant elements of the layered system and creates a more flexible infrastructure.

Flattening the network offers many benefits, with some analysts believing that it also makes it possible to use basic point-to-point cabling within the data center. However, heading in this strategic direction can be a mistake. Industry experts Kishore Inampudi and Masum Mir told Cabling Installation & Maintenance that some flattened data center networks actually depend more on structured cabling than three-tier infrastructure. As a result, investment in advanced structured cabling solutions can be vital to supporting the innovation that helps the network deal with the challenges created by virtualization.

Many experts agree that increasing the use of fiber-optic cabling systems in the data center is one way to deal with increases in bandwidth. Since virtualization pushes more data through less hardware, having a cabling setup that facilitates better data throughput and improves transit speeds can help the network keep up with the requirements of virtualized servers containing data-rich applications.

Perle’s wide range of 1 to 48 port Perle Console Servers provide data center managers and network administrators with secure remote management of any device with a serial console port. Plus, they are the only truly fault tolerant Console Servers on the market with the advanced security functionality needed to easily perform secure remote data center management and out-of-band management of IT assets from anywhere in the world.


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