Networks: The Crux of Tomorrow's Datacenter

Perhaps Scott McNealy was right when he said "the network is the computer" all those years ago, and the next generation of datacenters will bear that out.

Source: LinuxWorld

SAN FRANCISCO -- As enterprises virtualize their environments and move toward the next-generation datacenter, the network will enable this move, Rajiv Ramaswami, vice president and general manager of Cisco, said yesterday.

In his keynote speech yesterday at the Next Generation Data Center and LinuxWorld conferences, held concurrently at San Francisco's Moscone Center this week through Thursday, Ramaswami told his audience that the network will have increased bandwidth and capabilities to meet the needs of virtualization.

He predicted that Ethernet will win out over other networking technologies, and that enterprises will consolidate their networks to meet their evolving datacenter requirements.

Ramaswami's remarks are a continuation of Cisco's Data Center 3.0 strategy laid out in July 2007 at the company's Networkers conference in Anaheim, Calif. Since then, Cisco has unveiled several products in line with this vision.

The network is "the key to enable the other forms of virtualization," because as enterprises virtualize more of their IT infrastructure, they will have to evolve to service orchestration, where "you pool every resource -- your network, storage, your servers," Ramaswami said.

This pooling will let an enterprise allocate resources as needed, improving datacenter utilization rates, Ramaswami said. These rates currently are only about 20 percent, he added.

As they move toward the next-generation datacenter, enterprises will continue to virtualize, and this will require more bandwidth in networks. "You'll have multiple CPUs being deployed on top of which you run multiple virtual machines, and the net effect is you push a lot more I/O traffic into the network," Ramaswami explained. (I/O stands for input/output.)

Networks will also require more bandwidth to handle the sheer number of connections. "If you have 1,000 physical machines each deploying 10 virtual machines, as far as the network's concerned, you need 10,000 ports," Ramaswami said.

This demand for more bandwidth will push enterprises toward replacing their current 1 Gigabit Ethernet networks in the datacenter with 10Gb Ethernet networks, Ramaswami predicted. Work on 40Gb and 100Gb Ethernet is under way, he added.

The IEEE has already decided that the next speed for Ethernet will be both 40Gb and 100Gb because they address different needs. The 40Gb rate will handle server and computing applications, and the 100Gb rate will handle aggregation and core networking applications.

Both standards are necessary because the areas they serve have different growth rates. Servers are doubling in their bandwidth needs every 24 months while core networking bandwidth needs double every 18 months, according to the IEEE.

Next page: The network of tomorrow

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TAGS: virtualization,datacenter,networks,Cisco,SAN

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