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Media conversion key as network convergence takes hold in data centers

By Donna Donnawitz
April 11, 2013

The data center network is changing. If you look at a traditional data center traffic flow chart you will probably notice one clear trend - everything is either coming in or heading out. The vast majority of data center network bandwidth has traveled in the north-south pattern, from hardware out to end users and vice versa. Virtualization and cloud computing are combining to change this, creating an environment where east-west traffic is central and network convergence is key.

Within this data center network climate, the need for fiber is rising, making media converters a key consideration for interoperability.

Understanding how the data center network has changed
The traditional data center network has multiple levels that data can flow within, allowing the infrastructure to be clearly segmented and organized. While this model has its flaws, it worked whenmost traffic was heading in a north-south direction. However, the rise of virtualization and cloud computing has led to an environment in which more data is traveling between servers, not just to and from them. This east-west traffic adds complexity that is difficult to handle in a traditional multi-layer system. This is leading to a growing movement toward network convergence.

In theory, a converged data center network is one that is flatter - without the layers - and therefore much more flexible, responsive and easy to manage. This network is simpler and better equipped to support both north-south and east-west traffic. However, it also has to handle a lot more bandwidth. This can lead to major problems when key network links are limited by copper cabling infrastructure. This is especially evident within SAN setups, where incredibly large amounts of data can easily overwhelm copper-based Ethernet systems. Interoperability solutions become essential as more data center managers respond to convergence through strategic investments in optical cabling.

Considering media conversion
Fiber to Ethernet media converters provide the compatibility needed to use fiber as backhaul or for bandwidth-heavy data center links, allowing copper to be used freely in other parts of the data center. This can be incredibly beneficial in a converged network environment because the flattened architecture of the setup can sometimes be prone to bottlenecks and other problems when large data spikes take place in certain parts of the infrastructure. Fiber provides the bandwidth needed to handle the added stress in these areas.

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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