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Flat networks can support more diverse device usage

By Max Burkhalter
October 13, 2011
Businesses are increasingly opening their networks up to a wider range of computing devices, including smartphones and tablets. To support these mobile systems, organizations often need to upgrade their foundational networks to handle growing amounts of bandwidth and application delivery.

According to a recent Register report, organizations enabling more robust, diverse device usage policies can benefit by deploying flat Ethernet infrastructure. Flattening the network involves streamlining traffic by moving it to the second network layer and often using mesh topologies instead of spanning tree protocol.

Industry expert Duncan Hughes told the news source that the growing number of mobile devices hitting the market is changing the way networks must be managed. As users expect their mobile platforms to keep them connected to applications and services at all times, that same flexibility needs to exist within the network. As a result, a single application is no longer attached to a specific server. Instead, the infrastructure is virtualized and services move from device to device as needed.

To support this type of flexibility while meeting the constant connectivity needs of end users, companies need to change the way networks are established. Hughes explained flattening the Ethernet infrastructure can support virtualization and cloud computing. To accomplish this, a growing number of businesses are virtualizing actual network appliances. This process can improve agility while also reducing operating costs.

"The cloud-optimized network is designed to reduce cost, improve agility, and extend virtualization across the data center. A key enabling technology is the Ethernet fabric - a new approach to network design that is revolutionizing data center architectures. Compared to classic hierarchical Ethernet networks, the Ethernet fabric delivers higher levels of performance, utilization, availability and simplicity," Hughes told the Register.

Availability is a key consideration when establishing network infrastructure to support the cloud and virtual infrastructure. Hughes told the news source flat Ethernet networks provide the foundation necessary to improve network management, making it easier to maintain availability throughout the platform.

Migrating to a flat, fabric Ethernet architecture can be an expensive process. To overcome this, businesses need to understand the full implications of the architecture and carefully match their purchases to their specific service requirements, according to a recent CFO World report. Choosing the right port connection speeds to match quality of service standards can also help keep fabric adoption within the budget.


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