Musings from the Cold Aisle
Musings from the Cold Aisle
Top 5 Questions to Ask About Your 10G Data Center

This week I get to host (and when I say host, what I really mean is ‘ask questions and let smart people talk’) a webinar on the topic of building a data center network for 10G data centers.  I’m excited because I’ll be speaking to real networking gurus and hear about their challenges and requirements when it comes to data center networking.


At the heart of the conversation is going to be the transition to 10G. In the data center, 10G top-of-rack switches are where we are seeing a lot of action.  There are a number of factors contributing to the growth: higher powered CPUs, server virtualization, and storage convergence among them, and this is a trend that we certainly see continuing in the future.


Many of you out there are probably in the same boat, so as you think about your own data center network and your evolving requirements, here are five important questions to ask before you make the 10G leap:


  1. Is there an app for that?  Anyone who is remotely tech savvy has heard that question.   It’s no different in the IT data center space, where the truly important question is “What applications are you hosting?” Are they mission-critical to your business?  Are they high bandwidth, latency-sensitive or jitter-sensitive (rich media)?  Is it a single app at large scale, or multiple smaller apps?  These applications—and the user experience characteristics that accompany them—make all the difference in determining how to build the right 10G network for your data center.
  2. How virtualized are you?  If you’re trying to achieve greater virtualization density (the number of virtual machines per physical server), this will have an impact on your network design.  What percentage of your servers is virtualized today, and in what direction is that trending?  Are you trying to achieve even greater economies of scale by increasing virtualization in your servers?  What about virtual machine mobility—how often and how far are you moving your VMs within your data center?
  3. What type of storage are you running?  The more you virtualize, the more difficult it becomes to pre-provision appropriate levels of I/O.  This makes Converged Network Adapters (CNAs) important to support convergence all the way to the edge of the network.  If you’re running Fiber Channel, Fiber Channel over Ethernet or even iSCSI NAS, you’ll need to build a network infrastructure capable of handling the unique characteristics of your storage elements as well.
  4. How big is your data center?  When it comes to your data center (and if you’re interested in controlling your operational expenses), size does matter.  Real estate, power and cooling are all important criteria to consider, and (perhaps somewhat surprisingly), the network plays a role as well.  It’s hard to predict what your needs will be three years from now, but if you can build a flexible, easy-to-manage, space-efficient data center network today, you’ll minimize the risk of having to rip-and-replace your hard work and investments tomorrow.
  5. Do you have any 1G leftovers?  Unlike last night’s dinner, these leftovers can be every bit as good (and definitely important) as the new 10G data center you’re building.  In many cases, you’re running business-critical applications built on a reliable network infrastructure that has been working smoothly for some time now.  As you expand your data center footprint to meet your 10G needs, you have to make sure it’s still easily managed and works seamlessly with your existing data center.  That means the 10G network must interoperate with your existing 1G networks, existing servers, existing storage devices, and all other existing data center services.

Top Kudoed Authors
User Kudos Count