Virtualization Still Needs This

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Enterprise Data Centers Demand High-Count Fiber

The introduction of Virtual Storage Area Networks (VSAN) and Software-Defined Storage (SDS) is significantly changing network architectures in the Enterprise Data Center.

Since major providers of IT infrastructures launched the principle of SDS, previous storage systems have been marginalized. The X86 servers with PCIe 3.0 bus appeared on the market about 4 years ago. This meant the conditions were created for the integration of storage tasks into the server infrastructure. A standard server on 2 height units with 6 card slots suddenly offered more bandwidth and performance potential than any midrange storage system.

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(LT) Classic design with Ethernet and fibre channel network. (CTR) SDS alternative for Enterprise Data Centers with 2 separated Ethernet networks. (RT) Consolidated Ethernet network in which both data and storage traffic are distributed via the same switches.

The economic advantages of this integrated concept are convincing. A data center has to use powerful servers in any case to be able to run the numerous virtual machines. And storage volume can easily be added for the price of further server disks. For example, on the basis of SDS, servers for virtual machines are equipped with 24 instead of only 2 to 3 disks. And there is already sufficient storage available — for the marginal costs of additional server disks.

However, this evolutionary advance will not result in a reduction in the amount of cabling in data centers. The cabling would just be shifted and might even increase.

This has to be taken into account right from the infrastructure planning phase. Until now, cables have run from the server’s network interface card to the Ethernet switch, as well as from the server’s host bus adapter to the Fiber Channel switch, and from there to the storage. The amount of cables was split over the relevant areas. This meant cabling density was still relatively low.

Shifting storage into the server housing means networks are consolidated. Cabling density increases as a result, both on the server housing and on the switch or router. Increasing virtualization means data traffic between servers grows. At the same time, there is a further increase in CPU and PCI performance. These advances should also get through to users.

Improvements in quality can be achieved only with more bandwidth and higher performance from the cabling. As a result, data centers have to ensure their networks can cope with using 40 and 100 Gigabit Ethernet (GbE).

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About Author

Dr. Thomas Wellinger, Market Manager Data Centers at R&M, a Swiss cabling specialist based in Wetzikon. He has more than 10 years of experience in optical networking and Data Centers. Reichle & De-Massari AG (R&M) is a global producer of future-proof products and systems for communication and data networks. The Swiss family company’s collaboration with certified partners results in pioneering connectivity solutions in the sectors LAN, Public and Telecom Networks as well as Data Centers. For more information, please email Thomas.wellinger@rdm.com or visit www.rdm.com.

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