Monday, July 02, 2012
Facebook showcases the future of data center networking
The way companies connect servers is changing. In an era when cloud computing and virtualization are the norm and legacy IT architectures are quickly fading into the background, the network is such a priority that it can dictate the entire direction of a data center project. This is evident in Facebook's recently built data center in North Carolina, where the engineers leading the process shifted gears part way through operations to redesign the network configuration based on emerging requirements, Wired reported.
According to the news source, the North Carolina facility was supposed to be an exact replica of Facebook's data center in Prineville, Oregon, featuring sustainability measures and advanced hardware. However, Jay Parikh, who oversees all of Facebook's data center plans, changed course part way through the project, completely redesigning the IT architectures of the North Carolina facility.
The reason for the shift was simple - Facebook realized that its networking demands had changed so much and were continuing to shift, making different infrastructure necessary to support ongoing operations and future-proof the facility. The end result has been a data center in North Carolina that looks exactly like its older sibling in Oregon, on the outside, but vastly different from within, the report said.
The key distinction between the two facilities is the new network in the North Carolina data center, which also mandated adjustments to server, power and cooling systems. Facebook's increased use of virtualization and cloud computing has lead to a rapid increase in east-west traffic through the data center. As a result, the organization completely revised its Ethernet deployment and adjusted its setup to support communication between servers, not just out to end users.
Typically, most data center traffic is north-south, from the servers out to end users. However, cloud computing and virtualization have combined to create more east-west traffic, between servers and other internal hardware. This has created a scenario in which many experts agree businesses will need to flatten their Ethernet networks, cutting away the traditional layered model and replacing it with a more efficient, responsive and flexible network that features fewer layers.
Flattened Ethernet architectures can also include the removal of spanning tree protocol, a data center network system that is beginning to feel outdated as traffic changes. In its place, the transparent interconnection of lots of links, is emerging as a leading option for future data center network architectures.
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