Monday, November 14, 2011
Data center Ethernet systems changing in light of more east-west traffic
Data center network traffic patterns are changing quickly, creating an environment where traditional network infrastructure needs to shift toward a more mesh-based fabric architecture, Network Computing reported.
According to the news source, traditional data center network infrastructure focused on north-south traffic, which facilitated data flows from the network core to end users. This is shifting, however, as application and web servers increasingly interact with database systems before transmitting data outside of the network core. Server-to-server communication is considered east-west traffic, and it is becoming much more prevalent in the data center.
The report said spanning tree protocol and other traditional Ethernet systems are no longer necessary in light of the growing amount of east-west traffic. As a result, setups for rack-based network infrastructure need to change. This will lead to increased investments in such network systems as mesh and fabric architectures, transparent interconnection of lots of links infrastructure, layer 2 multipathing and other innovative network platforms.
In many cases, the report said growth in east-west traffic is making data center networks more closely resemble campus networks.
Making the switch to these newer architectures in data center settings would represent a major switch in top-of-rack and core switching infrastructure, according to the news source. This also changes how network ports are managed on servers, transitioning the entire network toward a mesh fabric.
Accomplishing this kind of change would require a fundamental change to how organizations manage their Ethernet infrastructure. Essentially, this process would involve completely replacing the traditional network core with fabric architectures that bring Ethernet infrastructure into a single layer and optimize the platform for east-west communication.
Fabric architectures are especially important to help data center operators deal with virtual infrastructure. Virtualization makes the server level significantly complex, as it turns physical servers into multiple virtual machines. This not only calls for virtual Ethernet ports, but also forces the network to deal with increased communication between servers and higher quantiites of data in the network, InformationWeek reported.
This complexity can be dealt with by turning away from traditional core architectures, removing unnecessary network layers and turning to a fabric architecture that unifies storage and traditional Ethernet infrastructure.
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