It’s the network, man!


Today’s award for unfortunate headlines goes to Ethernet switch vendors propose data center collapse. No, they’re not really impersonating Chicken Little!

The collapse being referred to is eliminating tiers of aggregation starting with slower speeds at the bottom aggregating to high speeds at the top. Obviously, the more you can flatten the network, the better the performance will be and the simpler it will be, resulting in easier maintenance, engineering, and management, and lower total cost of ownership.

So what drives this collapse? First is the dramatic increases in Ethernet speeds and the large price drops per port. The differences in per port price are constantly dropping, so it makes sense to future proof by pushing large ports closer to the servers.

Second is the effect of virtualization on the network. The more virtual servers are loaded on a single physical server, the higher the utilization of all the hardware in the physical server, including the network connections. Configurations that were acceptable for one nonvirtual server suddenly become a major bottleneck with the exact same hardware when it’s loaded with virtual machines. This is a consequence of virtualization that commonly gets overlooked up front.

Finally, there’s the green aspect. Reducing the amount of networking equipment involved by collapsing the tiers of network in the data center not only reduces the total cost of ownership of the network from a maintenance, engineering, and management standpoint, it also reduces energy consumption and heat load in the data center, which in turn also reduces cooling costs.

So, should you go out and do a forklift replacement of your data center network? Not necessarily. Careful analysis of the existing network and TCO analysis of all the elements can point to the largest “bang for the buck” modifications first. The point is to start the changes now and not delay for the pain of doing it all at once.

Future proof and simplify your data center network and it will never collapse on you!

Vern, SwiftWater Telecom
Data center, web hosting, Internet engineering

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