Network Communications News (NCN) October 2017 - Page 21

THE KNOWLEDGE NETWORK Closer to the edge ‘Cloud is driving a huge demand for connectivity and availability, storage and server performance.’ Net wor ks a re bein g orga nis e d i n new a nd dif ferent way s to gu arantee the high ba nd wid t h , low latency a nd hig h u pt im e t hat c loud computing ne e d s to be relia bl e a nd a cce s s ib l e from any l o cation . Tra dit io na l l y , d ata centre traf fic ha s m a inl y consi sted of client-to-se r ve r i nte raction s (n o r th – so u t h), b u t tod ay network traf fic in l a rge d ata centres is prima ril y s e r ve r- to-se r ver (ea s t – wes t) t raf f ic for cloud co mputin g a p p l ic at io ns . T he 3 -level tree netwo r k arc hi tecture co mmo nly u s e d in t he pas t is buil t to a cco m m o d ate cli ent-to -s er ver tra n s m is s io n. H owever, this is not a s ef fe ct ive for se r ver-to -s er ver a p p l ic at io ns , as i t i ntroduces laten cy a nd u s e s u p bandwidth a n d, a s a re s u l t , d ata centres a re re-eva l u at ing t hei r architectures , rig ht d own to t he placement of s witc h e s . According to a recent BI Intelligence report, 79% of IT teams feel that bringing customers closer to their content is the main benefit of a data centre. The fur ther away users are from large urban areas, the more the quality of high- bandwidth applications may suffer. ‘Edge data centres’ can play a role in solving this. These move the ‘edge’ of the internet fur ther away from traditional internet hubs. Frequently-referenced applications and content are cached on servers which are closer to less densely networked or ‘tier-two’ markets. This improves the quality of high-bandwidth applications outside large urban areas, adding excellent user experience to cloud ser vices and mobile computing. Better ser vice can be provided, with less physical distance and minimal latency. However, building an edge network is different to building a ‘traditional’ network. Edge data centres are generally located in small spaces. Cabling from servers is often directly connected to a fibre platform in a central network cabinet. In confined sections, fibre must accommodate cable twisting, moving, adding and changing and data has to pass through cables at awkward angles without quality loss. This makes expansion and rollout of broadband networks more efficient, faster and cost effective. Furthermore, Ultra High Port density is key to a successful rollout – traditional ‘72 ports per unit’ UHD solutions won’t suffice. ‘Edge’ or ‘access’ switches connect directly to end-user devices. When choosing an edge switch, high port density and low costs per port are desirable. If there’s ample port capacity, the user can simply – and cost-effectively – re-patch devices themselves. Further considerations Data-hungry technology solutions may expand rapidly, but the cabled backbone will have to suppor t several consecutive generations of hardware and bandwidth standards. Therefore, high density – in excess of 100 por ts per rack unit – is essential. Fibres are brought directly from ser ver por ts to an Ultra High Density plat form, which could accommodate up to 50% more fibre optic connections inside a traditional housing. Although cables need to have a significantly higher fibre count, handling should be identical to that of smaller cables, and termination should be as easy as possible. Poor cable management may result in signal inter ference and crosstalk, damage and failure. Adhering to good practices are vital to avoiding per formance issues, data transmission errors and downtime. Edge data centres can be widely distributed, so automated asset management and tracking is a prerequisite. Today, the average edge data centre sur face area is around 800m 2 , with thousands of network ports. All too many network managers still carry out inventory and management of physical infrastructure with Excel sheets – or even paper, pencil and post-its. A specialised solution is required to monitor all changes to a physical network, including switches, servers and patch panels. Systems offering functions for mapping, managing, analysing and planning cabling and network cabinets can also include asset management, planned and unplanned changes and alarms. A well-specified DCIM system can help match IT and operational requirements and protocols to capacity planning and needs. Cloud is driving a huge demand for connectivity and availability, storage and server performance. As a result, numerous new systems are being built, and existing systems are being retrofitted quickly, too. That requires a great deal of care, as the foundation for today and tomorrow’s cloud services needs to be as reliable and robust as possible. Identifying and addressing any gaps in your current infrastructure and developing a plan for allowing your infrastructure to accommodate cloud applications is an essential first step. More information: R&M October 2017 | 21