The Raritan Blog

Demand for Faster, Denser Data Center Networking

Rick Gonedes
February 8, 2018

As business innovates, data centers are feeling a crunch. Their customers demand speed and density, no longer satisfied with what once seemed cutting-edge. Find out how data network center designs are changing at every level to focus on speed and density.

Businesses Continue to Invest in Data Centers

For now, it seems businesses are content to invest in data centers as they explore the cloud. A 31 percent of responders to a recent survey from Network Computers Report plan to invest half, or more, of their IT budgets in data center facilities, operations, or hardware in 2018. Companies plan to spend the most amount of money on servers, while virtualization and public cloud services are also top priorities.  

Rich Media Behind Demand for Faster Connection Speeds 

Where 10 gigabit Ethernet connections used to be large enough to accommodate both inter-center (east-west) and intra-center (north-south) traffic, this is no longer the case. From big data to rich media, customers are simply flooding the data center with larger packets of data than the Ethernet connections can accommodate.

In some data centers, connections have increased tenfold to 100 gigabit Ethernet -- and not merely at chokepoints, but throughout the data center. 

Some enterprise data centers are exploring Ethernet alternatives, too, be it dedicated wavelengths or robust dark fiber in their quest to keep pace with changing demands for speed. 

Flat Design is Falling Out of Favor 

From the original flat design, networks grew tiered, then flat, and then tiered into the leaf-spine shape that has become the current standard, offering a balance between flat and resilient. The flatter the network, the less an individual data packet has to travel to pass through the data center. 

Recently, deep design is coming back into favor. We're starting to see a resurgence of the three-tier structure where intermediate points connect branch nodes to one another, to the data center, and to the internet. In some data centers, there's more complex networking due to WAN-cloud exchanges, which leverage the benefits of the cloud with the reliability and security of the data center.

WAN-cloud exchanges offer a virtual alternative to physical infrastructure management for these connections, relying on exchange routers for connectivity rather than direct-to-cloud routers. WAN-cloud exchanges serve as connectivity hubs between many different cloud service providers and enterprises.

Since they're virtual, data centers can set up many more of these WAN connections than they can direct connections. What's more, WAN-cloud exchanges are easy to set up, secure, and agile. It takes minutes to spin up a virtual direct connection at the moment of need. With WAN-cloud exchanges, data centers are limited only by their imagination in their options for link connectivity.

Cloud Resources Demand Fast Connectivity

The widespread adoption of cloud resources also plays a role in the push for faster data centers. Customers need speed to connect cloud resources to the data center's applications or to accommodate their onsite cloud users, and data centers need cloud resources to stay cost-effective.

Data centers have started connecting at the edge to cloud providers' networks through colocation facilities, either physically or through a point of presence, increasing capacity while decreasing lag time. Technologies like Direct Connect (from Amazon Web Services) or ExpressRoute (Microsoft Azure) are driving this edge connectivity. This sort of edge computing is projected to grow, and bring with it major changes to the flow of information through data centers. 

Staying on top of trends in the data center can help your company make better decisions, provide better service to customers, and remain future ready. How will you prepare for what 2018 brings? To learn about how the latest innovations in power distribution are meeting the demand for increased speed with a Standard Gigabit Ethernet click here.