Networks: The Crux of Tomorrow's Datacenter

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The network of tomorrow

In addition to more bandwidth, networks will need new functions to enable scaling and mobility in the virtualized environment, Ramaswami said. Cisco is developing datacenter Ethernet networks that will let enterprises scale virtual machines (VMs) across datacenters using local area network (LAN) and storage area network (SAN) extensions, and will let them move VMs around the network, Ramaswami told his audience.

This project is in keeping with Cisco's plans to be a player in the enterprise datacenter virtualization market.

The network of tomorrow will be able to identify VMs, conduct performance monitoring, automate and simplify the process of implementing security in a virtualized environment, and move policies associated with a VM along with it as it is relocated from one server to another, Ramaswami said.

Meanwhile, enterprises will begin consolidating their networks because having one network connecting all their resources together will provide efficiencies of scale, according to Ramaswami.

Datacenters have many different networks with several instances of each type, Ramaswami said. They have multiple Ethernet local-area networks (LANs), multiple storage area networks (SANs) using Fiber Channel, and high-performance computing infrastructure deployed over several instances of InfiniBand .

That means each server needs seven to nine adapters to attach to the different networks. With each adapter consuming about 20 watts of power, that adds up to quite a bit, Ramaswami said. A large datacenter may easily have 1,000 servers, he added.

Having a single network could "save you a huge amount of power and cost in the datacenter," Ramaswami told his audience. It would also cost less to install because "you'll be rolling out one cable instead of multiple cables," he added.

Network consolidation would let enterprises to replace the seven to nine adapters each server uses with two 10 Gb Ethernet interfaces. Ethernet will win out over other networking technologies because "it has moved to the server motherboard from network interface cards (NICs), and is, effectively free," Ramaswami said. "That hasn't happened with the other networking technologies."

None of this will happen overnight, Ramaswami said. The move to the next-generation datacenter and the new network "will be a five-year or 10-year journey," he added.

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