Juniper: Networks inhibit 'exponential' data center

LAS VEGAS -- Current networks inhibit large-scale data centers, which require new fabric architectures, a Juniper official said during his keynote address at the Interop conference today.

Companies like Verizon Wireless, Google and Amazon Cloud require an “exponential data center” to accommodate the exponential growth in traffic and virtual resources, said Alex Gray, senior vice president and general manager of the campus and branch networking division at Juniper. Gray was delivering the Juniper keynote in place of David Yen, the former Juniper executive vice president and general manager of the company’s fabric and switching business group, who jumped to Cisco earlier this week.

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With growth in virtual servers outpacing the growth of physical servers, software being offered as a service, and storage now shared instead of dedicated, every major facet of IT has evolved – except the network, Gray said. Now that these resources are shared in scalable pools, they need to appear to be one network hop away from the user, Gray said.

The network needs to be the foundation of these cloud environments, he said. That requires an uprooting of the typical “tree” structure of data center networks which may include multiple hops between servers.

“Every hop introduces more latency, more disassembling and assembling of packets,” Gray said. “Location matters in a tree architecture.”

That’s why many data center switching vendors, like Juniper, are proposing flat fabrics that enable any-to-any connectivity, with resources that feel like they’re one hop away. Juniper’s recently introduced QFabric is intended to achieve this by presenting a single distributed switch instance between servers.

Others with skin in this game include Cisco, with its Nexus switches and FabricPath software; Brocade's Brocade One products; Arista's 7000 series switches; Avaya's VENA architecture; Alcatel-Lucent's "Application Fluent" switches; Extreme’s Open Fabric architecture; Force10’s new Z-series switches and software; HP’s S12500 and 6600 series switches and Intelligent Resilient Framework blueprint; and platforms from Enterasys.

“It’s a really exciting time… to be enabling the exponential data center,” Gray said.

Read more about lan and wan in Network World's LAN & WAN section.

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