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Impose order on data center chaos

By Max Burkhalter
March 7, 2012
The theme of chaos seems fairly apparent in the data center sector during the past year or so. Not too long ago, data center operators were facing server sprawl as their physical infrastructure was expanding at an unsustainable pace because of rising data storage and application provisioning needs. Then virtualization happened.

In theory, and mostly in practice, virtualization solved server sprawl by allowing organizations to actually use 70 percent to upwards of 90 percent of each server's hardware capacity. This was accomplished by partitioning hardware resources into multiple chunks, creating virtual machines. Suddenly, a single server can hold dozens of virtual machines and the beginnings of data center chaos through server sprawl were solved. Or so the industry thought.

Then cloud computing came blowing down the data center door, creating a dynamic in which virtual machines are entirely disconnected from the actual hardware, and can be freely moved from server within the network to another. Chaos ensued. Suddenly virtual machines were taking over the data center. Furthermore, they were filling the network with so much data that latency and dropped data packets became commonplace.

The problem is that servers are equipped with serial, Ethernet and other network ports to let them connect to various internal networks and end user systems. In most cases, each server has a single port because it is only supporting one application platform. Now that servers are holding multiple virtual machines, they need multiple ports or access to network resources that can handle the bandwidth requirements of these congested environments.

The right network investments can pay major dividends when it comes to imposing order on chaotic data center environments. For example, media conversion tools can allow organizations to optimize their cabling setup to meet the precise needs of the data center environment.

Typically, organizations can only use optical cabling systems for the network backbone because they cannot easily integrate copper with fiber in production environments. They could use fiber exclusively, but that would create a huge expense. Media conversion can allow organizations to freely combine copper, optical and serial connectivity options based on the specific needs of their data center, optimizing the price to performance ratio and creating enough bandwidth flexibility to handle the chaos created by virtual machine sprawl.

Perle has an extensive range of Managed and Unmanaged Fiber Media Converters to extended copper-based Ethernet equipment over a fiber optic link, multimode to multimode and multimode to single mode fiber up to 160km.


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