What is the Role Played by a Network in an Adaptive Data Centre?
What are the advantages of an adaptive network? What is the role played by a network in an adaptive data centre?
Most people, when they talk about adaptive or dynamic infrastructure in data centres, they refer to power and cooling systems. That is understandable because that’s where you are going to spend most of your money. The same concept applies to networks as well, which many don’t realise. Making the network infrastructure adaptive can help you achieve tremendous cost savings, while improving the flexibility and reliability of the network.
One reason why cloud computing is so popular is the flexibility it offers. You could very easily provision the storage, computation and network resources on the cloud without paying attention to how the data centre utilises the available space, power or networks. This added measure of flexibility allows you to grow and innovate further.
Data centres, much in the manner of the cloud, can be adaptable as well. The core data centre infrastructure, whether it is power, cooling or network, can be made to expand or scale depending on the changing technology and business requirements. The data centre infrastructure is dynamic and created for a dynamic world. You cannot build the entire power, cooling, and network infrastructure of the data centre on the first day itself. The infrastructure is added or reconfigured depending on the changing circumstances or requirements.
The building blocks of an adaptive network
An adaptive data centre consists of a block-like network infrastructure which is scalable with ease and consists of virtual blocks that can be reconfigured seamlessly. Developing such a physical network with easily scalable blocks is the same as connecting one Lego to another. So you can develop the entire network without having to reconfigure the backplane. This makes the whole task of building the network so much easier. There is no need to hire professional network specialists for this purpose either.
There are many benefits that can be achieved by making the network adaptive in terms of higher reliability, lower costs and greater flexibility. This is much in the same manner as making a power and cooling infrastructure adaptive. The virtual blocks can be set up within the blocks of the physical network. They can be modified and rerouted through the software portals that manage the network. So, by eliminating the cable management, you can easily bring the operating costs down and enhance the reliability of the network.
An adaptive network also brings down the capital expense, and ensures that you don’t have to build the network in expectation of future demand for the next 5 to 10 years in advance. Every time a new block is added, this is auto-discovered by the network. The adaptive network is self-configuring, self-healing and self-learning. So, in case a port was to go down on any of the switches, the network does not go down; instead it reroutes the traffic automatically away from that port. This way you can respond faster to fast changing technologies and market demands.
How an adaptive network helps your data centre grow faster and more efficiently
A data centre’s ability to adapt quickly depends on its ability to easily add network blocks as needed. A data centre has to be scalable in order to grow. The scalability depends on the network’s ability to drive more traffic through each of the ports. All network ports have to be able to process more data, which means they need to develop higher bandwidth.
There is another aspect to scalability, which is the capacity of the network to quickly associate or dissociate with a particular port or server. This flexibility is important. Many organisations are being pushed into a decentralised data centre model in order to provide support to users at the edges of the network. This requires them to make the network logically scalable across and beyond the various physical locations.
The biggest challenge for most companies is to achieve “last mile” connections, much more than just cross-country or cross-state connections. This is the connection between the local carrier hotel and the data centre.
Telecom companies have invested a lot in fibre connections between data centres and carrier hotels, but the last mile connection is left to the customer or the data centre. Usually most traffic jams in a network happen because of not being able to get the last mile connection right. An adaptive data centre is easily scalable and manages last mile connections better.
The biggest problem with static network infrastructure is that such networks lock the user into the technology which performed best at the the time it was designed. This makes it hard for data centre owners to innovate and change with the times, as new technologies emerge and market dynamics evolve. That’s why an adaptive data centre with a dynamic network infrastructure makes such a big difference – it helps you get rid of that burden of legacy which your data centre does not need.