What is Priority-based Flow Control and How It Improves Data Center Efficiency

Data center networks are continuously challenged to manage massive amounts of data and need to simultaneously handle different types of traffic, such as high-speed data transfers, real-time communication, and storage traffic, often on shared network infrastructure. That’s where Priority-based Flow Control (PFC) proves to be a game-changer.

What is Priority-Based Flow Control?

Priority-Based Flow Control (PFC) is a network protocol mechanism that’s part of the IEEE 802.1Qbb standard, designed to ensure a lossless Ethernet environment. It operates by managing the flow of data packets across a network based on the priority level assigned to different types of traffic. PFC is primarily used to provide Quality of Service (QoS) by preventing data packet loss in Ethernet networks, which becomes especially critical in environments where different applications and services have varying priorities and requirements.

How Does Priority-Based Flow Control Work?

To understand the workings of Priority-Based Flow Control, one needs to look at how data is transmitted over networks. Ethernet, the underlying technology in most data centers, is prone to congestion when multiple systems communicate over the same network pathway. When network devices become swamped with more traffic than they can handle, packet loss is typically the result. PFC addresses this problem by using a mechanism called “pause frames.”Pause frames are sent to a network device (like a switch or NIC) telling it to stop sending data for a specific priority level. Each type of traffic is assigned a different priority level and, correspondingly, a different virtual lane. When congestion occurs, the device with PFC capabilities issues a pause frame to the transmitting device to temporarily halt the transmission for that particular priority level, while allowing others to continue flowing. This helps prevent packet loss for high-priority traffic, such as storage or real-time communications, ensuring these services remain uninterrupted and reliable.

Why do We Need Priority-Based Flow Control?

Data centers serve as the backbone of enterprise IT services, and their performance directly impacts the success of business operations. Here’s why implementing PFC is vital:

  • Maintains Quality of Service (QoS): In a diverse traffic environment, critical services must be guaranteed stable network performance. PFC preserves the QoS by giving precedence to essential traffic during congestion.
  • Facilitates Converged Networking: The combination of storage, compute, and networking traffic over a single network infrastructure requires careful traffic management. PFC allows for this convergence by handling contention issues effectively.
  • Supports Lossless Networking: Some applications, such as storage area networks (SANs), cannot tolerate packet drops. PFC makes it possible for Ethernet networks to support these applications by ensuring a lossless transport medium.
  • Promotes Efficient Utilization: Properly managed flow control techniques like PFC mean that existing network infrastructure can handle higher workloads more efficiently, pushing off the need for expensive upgrades or overhauls.

Application of Priority-Based Flow Control in Data Centers

Here’s a closer look at how PFC is applied in data center operations to boost efficiency:

Managing Mixed Workload Traffic

Modern data centers have mixed workloads that perform various functions from handling database transactions to rendering real-time analytics. PFC enables the data center network to effectively manage these mixed workloads by ensuring that the right kind of traffic gets delivered on time, every time.

Maintaining Service Level Agreements (SLAs)

For service providers and large enterprises, meeting the expectations set in SLAs is critical. PFC plays a crucial role in upholding these SLAs. By prioritizing traffic according to policies, PFC ensures that the network adheres to the agreed-upon performance metrics.

Enhancing Converged Network Adapters (CNAs)

CNAs, which consolidate network and storage networking on a single adapter card, rely heavily on PFC to ensure data and storage traffic can flow without interfering with one another, thereby enhancing overall performance.

Integrating with Software-Defined Networking (SDN)

In the SDN paradigm, control over traffic flow is centralized. PFC can work in tandem with SDN policies to adjust priorities dynamically based on changing network conditions and application demands.

Enabling Scalability

As data centers grow and traffic volume increases, so does the complexity of traffic management. PFC provides a scalable way to maintain network performance without costly infrastructure changes.

Improving Energy Efficiency

By improving the overall efficiency of data transportation, PFC indirectly contributes to reduced energy consumption. More efficient data flow means network devices can operate optimally, preventing the need for additional cooling or power that might result from overworked equipment.


In conclusion, Priority-based Flow Control is a sophisticated tool that addresses the intrinsic complexities of modern data center networking. It prioritizes critical traffic, ensures adherence to quality standards, and permits the coexistence of diverse data types on a shared network. By integrating PFC into the data center network’s arsenal, businesses can not only maintain the expected service quality but also pave the way for advanced virtualization, cloud services, and future network innovations, driving efficiency to new heights.

A Comprehensive Guide to HPC Cluster

Very often, it’s common for individuals to perceive a High-Performance Computing (HPC) setup as if it were a singular, extraordinary device. There are instances when users might even believe that the terminal they are accessing represents the full extent of the computing network. So, what exactly constitutes an HPC system?

What is an HPC (High-Performance Computing) Cluster?

An High-Performance Computing (HPC) cluster is a type of computer cluster specifically designed and assembled for delivering high levels of performance that can handle compute-intensive tasks. An HPC cluster is typically used for running advanced simulations, scientific computations, and big data analytics where single computers are incapable of processing such complex data or at speeds that meet the user requirements. Here are the essential characteristics of an HPC cluster:

Components of an HPC Cluster

  • Compute Nodes: These are individual servers that perform the cluster’s processing tasks. Each compute node contains one or more processors (CPUs), which might be multi-core; memory (RAM); storage space; and network connectivity.
  • Head Node: Often, there’s a front-end node that serves as the point of interaction for users, handling job scheduling, management, and administration tasks.
  • Network Fabric: High-speed interconnects like InfiniBand or 10 Gigabit Ethernet are used to enable fast communication between nodes within the cluster.
  • Storage Systems: HPC clusters generally have shared storage systems that provide high-speed and often redundant access to large amounts of data. The storage can be directly attached (DAS), network-attached (NAS), or part of a storage area network (SAN).
  • Job Scheduler: Software such as Slurm or PBS Pro to manage the workload, allocating compute resources to various jobs, optimizing the use of the cluster, and queuing systems for job processing.
  • Software Stack: This may include cluster management software, compilers, libraries, and applications optimized for parallel processing.

Functionality

HPC clusters are designed for parallel computing. They use a distributed processing architecture in which a single task is divided into many sub-tasks that are solved simultaneously (in parallel) by different processors. The results of these sub-tasks are then combined to form the final output.

Figure 1: High-Performance Computing Cluster

HPC Cluster Characteristics

An HPC data center differs from a standard data center in several foundational aspects that allow it to meet the demands of HPC applications:

  • High Throughput Networking

HPC applications often involve redistributing vast amounts of data across many nodes in a cluster. To accomplish this effectively, HPC data centers use high-speed interconnects, such as InfiniBand or high-gigabit Ethernet, with low latency and high bandwidth to ensure rapid communication between servers.

  • Advanced Cooling Systems

The high-density computing clusters in HPC environments generate a significant amount of heat. To keep the hardware at optimal temperatures for reliable operation, advanced cooling techniques — like liquid cooling or immersion cooling — are often employed.

  • Enhanced Power Infrastructure

The energy demands of an HPC data center are immense. To ensure uninterrupted power supply and operation, these data centers are equipped with robust electrical systems, including backup generators and redundant power distribution units.

  • Scalable Storage Systems

HPC requires fast and scalable storage solutions to provide quick access to vast quantities of data. This means employing high-performance file systems and storage hardware, such as solid-state drives (SSDs), complemented by hierarchical storage management for efficiency.

  • Optimized Architectures

System architecture in HPC data centers is optimized for parallel processing, with many-core processors or accelerators such as GPUs (graphics processing units) and FPGAs (field-programmable gate arrays), which are designed to handle specific workloads effectively.

Applications of HPC Cluster

HPC clusters are used in various fields that require massive computational capabilities, such as:

  • Weather Forecasting
  • Climate Research
  • Molecular Modeling
  • Physical Simulations (such as those for nuclear and astrophysical phenomena)
  • Cryptanalysis
  • Complex Data Analysis
  • Machine Learning and AI Training

Clusters provide a cost-effective way to gain high-performance computing capabilities, as they leverage the collective power of many individual computers, which can be cheaper and more scalable than acquiring a single supercomputer. They are used by universities, research institutions, and businesses that require high-end computing resources.

Summary of HPC Clusters

In conclusion, this comprehensive guide has delved into the intricacies of High-Performance Computing (HPC) clusters, shedding light on their fundamental characteristics and components. HPC clusters, designed for parallel processing and distributed computing, stand as formidable infrastructures capable of tackling complex computational tasks with unprecedented speed and efficiency.

At the core of an HPC cluster are its nodes, interconnected through high-speed networks to facilitate seamless communication. The emphasis on parallel processing and scalability allows HPC clusters to adapt dynamically to evolving computational demands, making them versatile tools for a wide array of applications.

Key components such as specialized hardware, high-performance storage, and efficient cluster management software contribute to the robustness of HPC clusters. The careful consideration of cooling infrastructure and power efficiency highlights the challenges associated with harnessing the immense computational power these clusters provide.

From scientific simulations and numerical modeling to data analytics and machine learning, HPC clusters play a pivotal role in advancing research and decision-making across diverse domains. Their ability to process vast datasets and execute parallelized computations positions them as indispensable tools in the quest for innovation and discovery.

Understanding VXLAN: A Guide to Virtual Extensible LAN Technology

In modern network architectures, especially within data centers, the need for scalable, secure, and efficient overlay networks has become paramount. VXLAN, or Virtual Extensible LAN, is a network virtualization technology designed to address this necessity by enabling the creation of large-scale overlay networks on top of existing Layer 3 infrastructure. This article delves into VXLAN and its role in building robust data center networks, with a highlighted recommendation for FS’ VXLAN solution.

What Is VXLAN?

Virtual Extensible LAN (VXLAN) is a network overlay technology that allows for the deployment of a virtual network on top of a physical network infrastructure. It enhances traditional VLANs by significantly increasing the number of available network segments. VXLAN encapsulates Ethernet frames within a User Datagram Protocol (UDP) packet for transport across the network, permitting Layer 2 links to stretch across Layer 3 boundaries. Each encapsulated packet includes a VXLAN header with a 24-bit VXLAN Network Identifier (VNI), which increases the scalability of network segments up to 16 million, a substantial leap from the 4096 VLANs limit.

VXLAN operates by creating a virtual network for virtual machines (VMs) across different networks, making VMs appear as if they are on the same LAN regardless of their underlying network topology. This process is often referred to as ‘tunneling’, and it is facilitated by VXLAN Tunnel Endpoints (VTEPs) that encapsulate and de-encapsulate the traffic. Furthermore, VXLAN is often used with virtualization technologies and in data centers, where it provides the means to span virtual networks across different physical networks and locations.

VXLAN

What Problem Does VXLAN Solve?

VXLAN primarily addresses several limitations associated with traditional VLANs (Virtual Local Area Networks) in modern networking environments, especially in large-scale data centers and cloud computing. Here’s how VXLAN tackles these constraints:

Network Segmentation and Scalability

Data centers typically run an extensive number of workloads, requiring clear network segmentation for management and security purposes. VXLAN ensures that an ample number of isolated segments can be configured, making network design and scaling more efficient.

Multi-Tenancy

In cloud environments, resources are shared across multiple tenants. VXLAN provides a way to keep each tenant’s data isolated by assigning unique VNIs to each tenant’s network.

VM Mobility

Virtualization in data centers demands that VMs can migrate seamlessly from one server to another. With VXLAN, the migration process is transparent as VMs maintain their network attributes regardless of their physical location in the data center.

What Problem Does VXLAN Solve
Overcoming VLAN Restrictions
The classical Ethernet VLANs are limited in number, which presents challenges in large-scale environments. VXLAN overcomes this by offering a much larger address space for network segmentation.


” Also Check – Understanding Virtual LAN (VLAN) Technology

How VXLAN Can Be Utilized to Build Data Center Networks

When building a data center network infrastructure, VXLAN comes as a suitable overlay technology that seamlessly integrates with existing Layer 3 architectures. By doing so, it provides several benefits:

Coexistence with Existing Infrastructure

VXLAN can overlay an existing network infrastructure, meaning it can be incrementally deployed without the need for major network reconfigurations or hardware upgrades.

Simplified Network Management

VXLAN simplifies network management by decoupling the overlay network (where VMs reside) from the physical underlay network, thus allowing for easier management and provisioning of network resources.

Enhanced Security

Segmentation of traffic through VNIs can enhance security by logically separating sensitive data and reducing the attack surface within the network.

Flexibility in Network Design

With VXLAN, architects gain flexibility in network design allowing server placement anywhere in the data center without being constrained by physical network configurations.

Improved Network Performance

VXLAN’s encapsulation process can benefit from hardware acceleration on platforms that support it, leading to high-performance networking suitable for demanding data center applications.

Integration with SDN and Network Virtualization

VXLAN is a key component in many SDN and network virtualization platforms. It is commonly integrated with virtualization management systems and SDN controllers, which manage VXLAN overlays, offering dynamic, programmable networking capability.

By using VXLAN, organizations can create an agile, scalable, and secure network infrastructure that is capable of meeting the ever-evolving demands of modern data centers.

FS Cloud Data Center VXLAN Network Solution

FS offers a comprehensive VXLAN solution, tailor-made for data center deployment.

Advanced Capabilities

Their solution is designed with advanced VXLAN features, including EVPN (Ethernet VPN) for better traffic management and optimal forwarding within the data center.

Scalability and Flexibility

FS has ensured that their VXLAN implementation is scalable, supporting large deployments with ease. Their technology is designed to be flexible to cater to various deployment scenarios.

Integration with FS’s Portfolio

The VXLAN solution integrates seamlessly with FS’s broader portfolio, (such as the N5860-48SC and N8560-48BC, also have strong performance on top of VXLAN support), providing a consistent operational experience across the board.

End-to-End Security

As security is paramount in the data center, FS’s solution emphasizes robust security features across the network fabric, complementing VXLAN’s inherent security advantages.

In conclusion, FS’ Cloud Data Center VXLAN Network Solution stands out by offering a scalable, secure, and management-friendly approach to network virtualization, which is crucial for today’s complex data center environments.

How SDN Transforms Data Centers for Peak Performance?

SDN in the Data Center

In the data center, Software-Defined Networking (SDN) revolutionizes the traditional network architecture by centralizing control and introducing programmability. SDN enables dynamic and agile network configurations, allowing administrators to adapt quickly to changing workloads and application demands. This centralized control facilitates efficient resource utilization, automating the provisioning and management of network resources based on real-time requirements.

SDN’s impact extends to scalability, providing a flexible framework for the addition or removal of devices, supporting the evolving needs of the data center. With network virtualization, SDN simplifies complex configurations, enhancing flexibility and facilitating the deployment of applications.

This transformative technology aligns seamlessly with the requirements of modern, virtualized workloads, offering a centralized view for streamlined network management, improved security measures, and optimized application performance. In essence, SDN in the data center marks a paradigm shift, introducing unprecedented levels of adaptability, efficiency, and control.

The Difference Between SDN and Traditional Networking

Software-Defined Networking (SDN) and traditional networks represent distinct paradigms in network architecture, each influencing data centers in unique ways.

Traditional Networks:

  • Hardware-Centric Control: In traditional networks, control and data planes are tightly integrated within network devices (routers, switches).
  • Static Configuration: Network configurations are manually set on individual devices, making changes time-consuming and requiring device-by-device adjustments.
  • Limited Flexibility: Traditional networks often lack the agility to adapt to changing traffic patterns or dynamic workloads efficiently.

SDN (Software-Defined Networking):

  • Decoupled Control and Data Planes: SDN separates the control plane (logic and decision-making) from the data plane (forwarding of traffic), providing a centralized and programmable control.
  • Dynamic Configuration: With a centralized controller, administrators can dynamically configure and manage the entire network, enabling faster and more flexible adjustments.
  • Virtualization and Automation: SDN allows for network virtualization, enabling the creation of virtual networks and automated provisioning of resources based on application requirements.
  • Enhanced Scalability: SDN architectures can scale more effectively to meet the demands of modern applications and services.

In summary, while traditional networks rely on distributed, hardware-centric models, SDN introduces a more centralized and software-driven approach, offering enhanced agility, scalability, and cost-effectiveness, all of which positively impact the functionality and efficiency of data centers in the modern era.

Key Benefits SDN Provides for Data Centers

Software-Defined Networking (SDN) offers a multitude of advantages for data centers, particularly in addressing the evolving needs of modern IT environments.

  • Dealing with big data

As organizations increasingly delve into large data sets using parallel processing, SDN becomes instrumental in managing throughput and connectivity more effectively. The dynamic control provided by SDN ensures that the network can adapt to the demands of data-intensive tasks, facilitating efficient processing and analysis.

  • Supporting cloud-based traffic

The pervasive rise of cloud computing relies on on-demand capacity and self-service capabilities, both of which align seamlessly with SDN’s dynamic delivery based on demand and resource availability within the data center. This synergy enhances the cloud’s efficiency and responsiveness, contributing to a more agile and scalable infrastructure.

  • Managing traffic to numerous IP addresses and virtual machines

Through dynamic routing tables, SDN enables prioritization based on real-time network feedback. This not only simplifies the control and management of virtual machines but also ensures that network resources are allocated efficiently, optimizing overall performance.

  • Scalability and agility

The ease with which devices can be added to the network minimizes the risk of service interruption. This characteristic aligns well with the requirements of parallel processing and the overall design of virtualized networks, enhancing the scalability and adaptability of the infrastructure.

  • Management of policy and security

By efficiently propagating security policies throughout the network, including firewalling devices and other essential elements, SDN enhances the overall security posture. Centralized control allows for more effective implementation of policies, ensuring a robust and consistent security framework across the data center.

The Future of SDN

The future of Software-Defined Networking (SDN) holds several exciting developments and trends, reflecting the ongoing evolution of networking technologies. Here are some key aspects that may shape the future of SDN:

  • Increased Adoption in Edge Computing: As edge computing continues to gain prominence, SDN is expected to play a pivotal role in optimizing and managing distributed networks. SDN’s ability to provide centralized control and dynamic resource allocation aligns well with the requirements of edge environments.
  • Integration with 5G Networks: The rollout of 5G networks is set to revolutionize connectivity, and SDN is likely to play a crucial role in managing the complexity of these high-speed, low-latency networks. SDN can provide the flexibility and programmability needed to optimize 5G network resources.
  • AI and Machine Learning Integration: The integration of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) into SDN is expected to enhance network automation, predictive analytics, and intelligent decision-making. This integration can lead to more proactive network management, better performance optimization, and improved security.
  • Intent-Based Networking (IBN): Intent-Based Networking, which focuses on translating high-level business policies into network configurations, is likely to become more prevalent. SDN, with its centralized control and programmability, aligns well with the principles of IBN, offering a more intuitive and responsive network management approach.
  • Enhanced Security Measures: SDN’s capabilities in implementing granular security policies and its centralized control make it well-suited for addressing evolving cybersecurity challenges. Future developments may include further advancements in SDN-based security solutions, leveraging its programmability for adaptive threat response.

In summary, the future of SDN is marked by its adaptability to emerging technologies, including edge computing, 5G, AI, and containerization. As networking requirements continue to evolve, SDN is poised to play a central role in shaping the next generation of flexible, intelligent, and efficient network architectures.

What is an Edge Data Center?

Edge data centers are compact facilities strategically located near user populations. Designed for reduced latency, they deliver cloud computing resources and cached content locally, enhancing user experience. Often connected to larger central data centers, these facilities play a crucial role in decentralized computing, optimizing data flow, and responsiveness.

Key Characteristics of Edge Data Centers

Acknowledging the nascent stage of edge data centers as a trend, professionals recognize flexibility in definitions. Different perspectives from various roles, industries, and priorities contribute to a diversified understanding. However, most edge computers share similar key characteristics, including the following:

Local Presence and Remote Management:

Edge data centers distinguish themselves by their local placement near the areas they serve. This deliberate proximity minimizes latency, ensuring swift responses to local demands.

Simultaneously, these centers are characterized by remote management capabilities, allowing professionals to oversee and administer operations from a central location.

Compact Design:

In terms of physical attributes, edge data centers feature a compact design. While housing the same components as traditional data centers, they are meticulously packed into a much smaller footprint.

This streamlined design is not only spatially efficient but also aligns with the need for agile deployment in diverse environments, ranging from smart cities to industrial settings.

Integration into Larger Networks:

An inherent feature of edge data centers is their role as integral components within a larger network. Rather than operating in isolation, an edge data center is part of a complex network that includes a central enterprise data center.

This interconnectedness ensures seamless collaboration and efficient data flow, acknowledging the role of edge data centers as contributors to a comprehensive data processing ecosystem.

Mission-Critical Functionality:

Edge data centers house mission-critical data, applications, and services for edge-based processing and storage.This mission-critical functionality positions edge data centers at the forefront of scenarios demanding real-time decision-making, such as IoT deployments and autonomous systems.

Use Cases of Edge Computing

Edge computing has found widespread application across various industries, offering solutions to challenges related to latency, bandwidth, and real-time processing. Here are some prominent use cases of edge computing:

  • Smart Cities: Edge data centers are crucial in smart city initiatives, processing data from IoT devices, sensors, and surveillance systems locally. This enables real-time monitoring and management of traffic, waste, energy, and other urban services, contributing to more efficient and sustainable city operations.
  • Industrial IoT (IIoT): In industrial settings, edge computing process data from sensors and machines on the factory floor, facilitating real-time monitoring, predictive maintenance, and optimization of manufacturing processes for increased efficiency and reduced downtime.
  • Retail Optimization: Edge data centers are employed in the retail sector for applications like inventory management, cashierless checkout systems, and personalized customer experiences. Processing data locally enhances in-store operations, providing a seamless and responsive shopping experience for customers.
  • Autonomous Vehicles: Edge computing process data from sensors, cameras, and other sources locally, enabling quick decision-making for navigation, obstacle detection, and overall vehicle safety.
  • Healthcare Applications: In healthcare, edge computing are utilized for real-time processing of data from medical devices, wearable technologies, and patient monitoring systems. This enables timely decision-making, supports remote patient monitoring, and enhances the overall efficiency of healthcare services.

Impact on Existing Centralized Data Center Models

The impact of edge data centers on existing data center models is transformative, introducing new paradigms for processing data, reducing latency, and addressing the needs of emerging applications. While centralized data centers continue to play a vital role, the integration of edge data centers creates a more flexible and responsive computing ecosystem. Organizations must adapt their strategies to embrace the benefits of both centralized and edge computing for optimal performance and efficiency.


In conclusion, edge data centers play a pivotal role in shaping the future of data management by providing localized processing capabilities, reducing latency, and supporting a diverse range of applications across industries. As technology continues to advance, the significance of edge data centers is expected to grow, influencing the way organizations approach computing in the digital era.


Related articles: What Is Edge Computing?

What Is Software-Defined Networking (SDN)?

SDN, short for Software-Defined Networking, is a networking architecture that separates the control plane from the data plane. It involves decoupling network intelligence and policies from the underlying network infrastructure, providing a centralized management and control framework.

How does Software-Defined Networking (SDN) Work?

SDN operates by employing a centralized controller that manages and configures network devices, such as switches and routers, through open protocols like OpenFlow. This controller acts as the brain of the network, allowing administrators to define network behavior and policies centrally, which are then enforced across the entire network infrastructure. SDN network can be classified into three layers, each of which consists of various components.

  • Application layer: The application layer contains network applications or functions that organizations use. There can be several applications related to network monitoring, network troubleshooting, network policies and security.
  • Control layer: The control layer is the mid layer that connects the infrastructure layer and the application layer. It means the centralized SDN controller software and serves as the land of control plane where intelligent logic is connected to the application plane.
  • Infrastructure layer: The infrastructure layer consists of various networking equipment, for instance, network switches, servers or gateways, which form the underlying network to forward network traffic to their destinations.

To communicate between the three layers of SDN network, northbound and southbound application programming interfaces (APIs) are used. Northbound API enables communications between the application layers and the controller, while southbound API allows the controller communicate with the networking equipment.

What are the Different Models of SDN?

Depending on how the controller layer is connected to SDN devices, SDN networks can be divided into four different types which we can classify as follows:

  1. Open SDN

Open SDN has a centralized control plane and uses OpenFlow for the southbound API of the traffic from physical or virtual switches to the SDN controller.

  1. API SDN

API SDN, is different from open SDN. Rather than relying on an open protocol, application programming interfaces control how data moves through the network on each device.

  1. Overlay Model SDN

Overlay model SDN doesn’t address physical netwroks underneath but builds a virtual network on top of the current hardware. It operates on an overlay network and offers tunnels with channels to data centers to solve data center connectivity issues.

  1. Hybrid Model SDN

Hybrid model SDN, also called automation-based SDN, blends SDN features and traditional networking equipment. It uses automation tools such as agents, Python, etc. And components supporting different types of OS.

What are the Advantages of SDN?

Different SDN models have their own merits. Here we will only talk about the general benefits that SDN has for the network.

  1. Centralized Management

Centralization is one of the main advantages granted by SDN. SDN networks enable centralized management over the network using a central management tool, from which data center managers can benefit. It breaks out the barrier created by traditional systems and provides more agility for both virtual and physical network provisioning, all from a central location.

  1. Security

Despite the fact that the trend of virtualization has made it more difficult to secure networks against external threats, SDN brings massive advantages. SDN controller provides a centralized location for network engineers to control the entire security of the network. Through the SDN controller, security policies and information are ensured to be implemented within the network. And SDN is equipped with a single management system, which helps to enhance security.

  1. Cost-Savings

SDN network lands users with low operational costs and low capital expenditure costs. For one thing, the traditional way to ensure network availability was by redundancy of additional equipment, which of course adds costs. Compared to the traditional way, a software-defined network is much more efficient without the need to acquire more network switches. For another, SDN works great with virtualization, which also helps to reduce the cost for adding hardware.

  1. Scalability

Owing to the OpenFlow agent and SDN controller that allow access to the various network components through its centralized management, SDN gives users more scalability. Compared to a traditional network setup, engineers are provided with more choices to change network infrastructure instantly without purchasing and configuring resources manually.


In conclusion, in modern data centers, where agility and efficiency are critical, SDN plays a vital role. By virtualizing network resources, SDN enables administrators to automate network management tasks and streamline operations, resulting in improved efficiency, reduced costs, and faster time to market for new services.

SDN is transforming the way data centers operate, providing tremendous flexibility, scalability, and control over network resources. By embracing SDN, organizations can unleash the full potential of their data centers and stay ahead in an increasingly digital and interconnected world.


Related articles: Open Source vs Open Networking vs SDN: What’s the Difference

What Is FCoE and How Does It Work?

In the rapidly evolving landscape of networking technologies, one term gaining prominence is FCoE, or Fibre Channel over Ethernet. As businesses seek more efficient and cost-effective solutions, understanding the intricacies of FCoE becomes crucial. This article delves into the world of FCoE, exploring its definition, historical context, and key components to provide a comprehensive understanding of how it works.

What is FCoE (Fibre Channel over Ethernet)?

  • In-Depth Definition

Fibre Channel over Ethernet, or FCoE, is a networking protocol that enables the convergence of traditional Fibre Channel storage networks with Ethernet-based data networks. This convergence is aimed at streamlining infrastructure, reducing costs, and enhancing overall network efficiency.

  • Historical Context

The development of FCoE can be traced back to the need for a more unified and simplified networking environment. Traditionally, Fibre Channel and Ethernet operated as separate entities, each with its own set of protocols and infrastructure. FCoE emerged as a solution to bridge the gap between these two technologies, offering a more integrated and streamlined approach to data storage and transfer.

  • Key Components

At its core, FCoE is a fusion of Fibre Channel and Ethernet technologies. The key components include Converged Network Adapters (CNAs), which allow for the transmission of both Fibre Channel and Ethernet traffic over a single network link. Additionally, FCoE employs a specific protocol stack that facilitates the encapsulation and transport of Fibre Channel frames within Ethernet frames.

How does Fibre Channel over Ethernet Work?

  • Convergence of Fibre Channel and Ethernet

The fundamental principle behind FCoE is the convergence of Fibre Channel and Ethernet onto a shared network infrastructure. This convergence is achieved through the use of CNAs, specialized network interface cards that support both Fibre Channel and Ethernet protocols. By consolidating these technologies, FCoE eliminates the need for separate networks, reducing complexity and improving resource utilization.

  • Protocol Stack Overview

FCoE utilizes a layered protocol stack to encapsulate Fibre Channel frames within Ethernet frames. This stack includes the Fibre Channel over Ethernet Initialization Protocol (FIP), which plays a crucial role in the discovery and initialization of FCoE-capable devices. The encapsulation process allows Fibre Channel traffic to traverse Ethernet networks seamlessly.

  • FCoE vs. Traditional Fibre Channel

Comparing FCoE with traditional Fibre Channel reveals distinctive differences in their approaches to data networking. While traditional Fibre Channel relies on dedicated storage area networks (SANs), FCoE leverages Ethernet networks for both data and storage traffic. This fundamental shift impacts factors such as infrastructure complexity, cost, and overall network design.


” Also Check – IP SAN (IP Storage Area Network) vs. FCoE (Fibre Channel over Ethernet) | FS Community

What are the Advantages of Fibre Channel over Ethernet?

  1. Enhanced Network Efficiency

FCoE optimizes network efficiency by combining storage and data traffic on a single network. This consolidation reduces the overall network complexity and enhances the utilization of available resources, leading to improved performance and reduced bottlenecks.

  1. Cost Savings

One of the primary advantages of FCoE is the potential for cost savings. By converging Fibre Channel and Ethernet, organizations can eliminate the need for separate infrastructure and associated maintenance costs. This not only reduces capital expenses but also streamlines operational processes.

  1. Scalability and Flexibility

FCoE provides organizations with the scalability and flexibility needed in dynamic IT environments. The ability to seamlessly integrate new devices and technologies into the network allows for future expansion without the constraints of traditional networking approaches.

Conclusion

In conclusion, FCoE stands as a transformative technology that bridges the gap between Fibre Channel and Ethernet, offering enhanced efficiency, cost savings, and flexibility in network design. As businesses navigate the complexities of modern networking, understanding FCoE becomes essential for those seeking a streamlined and future-ready infrastructure.


Related Articles: Demystifying IP SAN: A Comprehensive Guide to Internet Protocol Storage Area Networks

What Is Layer 4 Switch and How Does It Work?

What’s Layer 4 Switch?

A Layer 4 switch, also known as a transport layer switch or content switch, operates on the transport layer (Layer 4) of the OSI (Open Systems Interconnection) model. This layer is responsible for end-to-end communication and data flow control between devices across a network. Here are key characteristics and functionalities of Layer 4 switches:

  • Packet Filtering: Layer 4 switches can make forwarding decisions based on information from the transport layer, including source and destination port numbers. This allows for more sophisticated filtering than traditional Layer 2 (Data Link Layer) or Layer 3 (Network Layer) switches.
  • Load Balancing: One of the significant features of Layer 4 switches is their ability to distribute network traffic across multiple servers or network paths. This load balancing helps optimize resource utilization, enhance performance, and ensure high availability of services.
  • Session Persistence: Layer 4 switches can maintain session persistence, ensuring that requests from the same client are consistently directed to the same server. This is crucial for applications that rely on continuous connections, such as e-commerce or real-time communication services.
  • Connection Tracking: Layer 4 switches can track the state of connections, helping to make intelligent routing decisions. This is particularly beneficial in scenarios where connections are established and maintained between a client and a server.
  • Quality of Service (QoS): Layer 4 switches can prioritize network traffic based on the type of service or application. This ensures that critical applications receive preferential treatment in terms of bandwidth and response time.
  • Security Features: Layer 4 switches often come with security features such as access control lists (ACLs) and the ability to perform deep packet inspection. These features contribute to the overall security of the network by allowing or denying traffic based on specific criteria.
  • High Performance: Layer 4 switches are designed for high-performance networking. They can efficiently handle a large number of simultaneous connections and provide low-latency communication between devices.

Layer 2 vs Layer 3 vs Layer 4 Switch

Layer 2 Switch:

Layer 2 switches operate at the Data Link Layer (Layer 2) and are primarily focused on local network connectivity. They make forwarding decisions based on MAC addresses in Ethernet frames, facilitating basic switching within the same broadcast domain. VLAN support allows for network segmentation.

However, Layer 2 switches lack traditional IP routing capabilities, making them suitable for scenarios where simple switching and VLAN segmentation meet the networking requirements.

Layer 3 Switch:

Operating at the Network Layer (Layer 3), Layer 3 switches combine switching and routing functionalities. They make forwarding decisions based on both MAC and IP addresses, supporting IP routing for communication between different IP subnets. With VLAN support, these switches are versatile in interconnecting multiple IP subnets within an organization.

Layer 3 switches can make decisions based on IP addresses and support dynamic routing protocols like OSPF and RIP, making them suitable for more complex network environments.

Layer 4 Switch:

Layer 4 switches operate at the Transport Layer (Layer 4), building on the capabilities of Layer 3 switches with advanced features. In addition to considering MAC and IP addresses, Layer 4 switches incorporate port numbers at the transport layer. This allows for the optimization of traffic flow, making them valuable for applications with high performance requirements.

Layer 4 switches support features such as load balancing, session persistence, and Quality of Service (QoS). They are often employed to enhance application performance, provide advanced traffic management, and ensure high availability in demanding network scenarios.

Summary:

In summary, Layer 2 switches focus on basic local connectivity and VLAN segmentation. Layer 3 switches, operating at a higher layer, bring IP routing capabilities and are suitable for interconnecting multiple IP subnets. Layer 4 switches, operating at the Transport Layer, further extend capabilities by optimizing traffic flow and offering advanced features like load balancing and enhanced QoS.

The choice between these switches depends on the specific networking requirements, ranging from simple local connectivity to more complex scenarios with advanced routing and application performance needs.


” Also Check – Layer 2, Layer 3 & Layer 4 Switch: What’s the Difference?

Layer 2 vs Layer 3 vs Layer 4 Switch: Key Parameters to Consider When Purchasing

To make an informed decision for your business, it’s essential to consider the key parameters between Layer 2, Layer 3, and Layer 4 switches when purchasing.

  1. Network Scope and Size:

When considering the purchase of switches, the size and scope of your network are critical factors. Layer 2 switches are well-suited for local network connectivity and smaller networks with straightforward topologies.

In contrast, Layer 3 switches come into play for larger networks with multiple subnets, offering essential routing capabilities between different LAN segments.

Layer 4 switches, with advanced traffic optimization features, are particularly beneficial in more intricate network environments where optimizing traffic flow is a priority.

  1. Functionality and Use Cases:

The functionality of the switch plays a pivotal role in meeting specific network needs. Layer 2 switches provide basic switching and VLAN support, making them suitable for scenarios requiring simple local connectivity and network segmentation.

Layer 3 switches, with combined switching and routing capabilities, excel in interconnecting multiple IP subnets and routing between VLANs.

Layer 4 switches take functionality a step further, offering advanced features such as load balancing, session persistence, and Quality of Service (QoS), making them indispensable for optimizing traffic flow and supporting complex use cases.

  1. Routing Capabilities:

Understanding the routing capabilities of each switch is crucial. Layer 2 switches lack traditional IP routing capabilities, focusing primarily on MAC address-based forwarding.

Layer 3 switches, on the other hand, support basic IP routing, allowing communication between different IP subnets.

Layer 4 switches, while typically not performing traditional IP routing, specialize in optimizing traffic flow at the transport layer, enhancing the efficiency of data transmission.

  1. Scalability and Cost:

The scalability of the switch is a key consideration, particularly as your network grows. Layer 2 switches may have limitations in larger networks, while Layer 3 switches scale well for interconnecting multiple subnets.

Layer 4 switch scalability depends on specific features and capabilities. Cost is another crucial factor, with Layer 2 switches generally being more cost-effective compared to Layer 3 and Layer 4 switches. The decision here involves balancing your budget constraints with the features required for optimal network performance.

  1. Security Features:

Security is paramount in any network. Layer 2 switches provide basic security features like port security. Layer 3 switches enhance security with the inclusion of access control lists (ACLs) and IP security features.

Layer 4 switches may offer additional security features, including deep packet inspection, providing a more robust defense against potential threats.

In conclusion, when purchasing switches, carefully weighing factors such as network scope, functionality, routing capabilities, scalability, cost, and security features ensures that the selected switch aligns with the specific requirements of your network, both in the present and in anticipation of future growth and complexities.

The Future of Layer 4 Switch

The future development of Layer 4 switches is expected to revolve around addressing the growing complexity of modern networks. Enhanced application performance, better support for cloud environments, advanced security features, and alignment with virtualization and SDN trends are likely to shape the evolution of Layer 4 switches, ensuring they remain pivotal components in optimizing and securing network infrastructures.


In conclusion, the decision between Layer 2, Layer 3, and Layer 4 switches is pivotal for businesses aiming to optimize their network infrastructure. Careful consideration of operational layers, routing capabilities, functionality, and use cases will guide you in selecting the switch that aligns with your specific needs. Whether focusing on basic connectivity, IP routing, or advanced traffic optimization, choosing the right switch is a critical step in ensuring a robust and efficient network for your business.


Related Article: Layer 2 vs Layer 3 Switch: Which One Do You Need? | FS Community

What Is OpenFlow and How Does It Work?

OpenFlow is a communication protocol originally introduced by researchers at Stanford University in 2008. It allows the control plane to interact with the forwarding plane of a network device, such as a switch or router.

OpenFlow separates the forwarding plane from the control plane. This separation allows for more flexible and programmable network configurations, making it easier to manage and optimize network traffic. Think of it like a traffic cop directing cars at an intersection. OpenFlow is like the communication protocol that allows the traffic cop (control plane) to instruct the cars (forwarding plane) where to go based on dynamic conditions.

How Does OpenFlow Relate to SDN?

OpenFlow is often considered one of the key protocols within the broader SDN framework. Software-Defined Networking (SDN) is an architectural approach to networking that aims to make networks more flexible, programmable, and responsive to the dynamic needs of applications and services. In a traditional network, the control plane (deciding how data should be forwarded) and the data plane (actually forwarding the data) are tightly integrated into the network devices. SDN decouples these planes, and OpenFlow plays a crucial role in enabling this separation.

OpenFlow provides a standardized way for the SDN controller to communicate with the network devices. The controller uses OpenFlow to send instructions to the switches, specifying how they should forward or process packets. This separation allows for more dynamic and programmable network management, as administrators can control the network behavior centrally without having to configure each individual device.

” Also Check – What Is Software-Defined Networking (SDN)?

How Does OpenFlow Work?

The OpenFlow architecture consists of controllers, network devices and secure channels. Here’s a simplified overview of how OpenFlow operates

Controller-Device Communication:

  • An SDN controller communicates with network devices (usually switches) using the OpenFlow protocol.
  • This communication is typically over a secure channel, often using the OpenFlow over TLS (Transport Layer Security) for added security.

Flow Table Entries:

  • An OpenFlow switch maintains a flow table that contains information about how to handle different types of network traffic. Each entry in the flow table is a combination of match fields and corresponding actions.

Packet Matching:

  • When a packet enters the OpenFlow switch, the switch examines the packet header and matches it against the entries in its flow table.
  • The match fields in a flow table entry specify the criteria for matching a packet (e.g., source and destination IP addresses, protocol type).

Flow Table Lookup:

  • The switch performs a lookup in its flow table to find the matching entry for the incoming packet.

Actions:

  • Once a match is found, the corresponding actions in the flow table entry are executed. Actions can include forwarding the packet to a specific port, modifying the packet header, or sending it to the controller for further processing.

Controller Decision:

  • If the packet doesn’t match any existing entry in the flow table (a “miss”), the switch can either drop the packet or send it to the controller for a decision.
  • The controller, based on its global view of the network and application requirements, can then decide how to handle the packet and send instructions back to the switch.

Dynamic Configuration:

Administrators can dynamically configure the flow table entries on OpenFlow switches through the SDN controller. This allows for on-the-fly adjustments to network behavior without manual reconfiguration of individual devices.

” Also Check – Open Flow Switch: What Is It and How Does It Work

How Does OpenFlow Work?

What are the Application Scenarios of OpenFlow?

OpenFlow has found applications in various scenarios. Some common application scenarios include:

Data Center Networking

Cloud data centers often host multiple virtual networks, each with distinct requirements. OpenFlow supports network virtualization by allowing the creation and management of virtual networks on shared physical infrastructure. In addition, OpenFlow facilitates dynamic load balancing across network paths in data centers. The SDN controller, equipped with a holistic view of the network, can distribute traffic intelligently, preventing congestion on specific links and improving overall network efficiency.

Traffic Engineering

Traffic engineering involves designing networks to be resilient to failures and faults. OpenFlow allows for the dynamic rerouting of traffic in the event of link failures or congestion. The SDN controller can quickly adapt and redirect traffic along alternative paths, minimizing disruptions and ensuring continued service availability.

Networking Research Laboratory

OpenFlow provides a platform for simulating and emulating complex network scenarios. Researchers can recreate diverse network environments, including large-scale topologies and various traffic patterns, to study the behavior of their proposed solutions. Its programmable and centralized approach makes it an ideal platform for researchers to explore and test new protocols, algorithms, and network architectures.

In conclusion, OpenFlow has emerged as a linchpin in the world of networking, enabling the dynamic, programmable, and centralized control that is the hallmark of SDN. Its diverse applications make it a crucial technology for organizations seeking agile and responsive network solutions in the face of evolving demands. As the networking landscape continues to evolve, OpenFlow stands as a testament to the power of innovation in reshaping how we approach and manage our digital connections.

400G Ethernet Manufacturers and Vendors

New data-intensive applications have led to a dramatic increase in network traffic, raising the demand for higher processing speeds, lower latency, and greater storage capacity. These require higher network bandwidth, up to 400G or higher. Therefore, the 400G market is currently growing rapidly. Many organizations join the ranks of 400G equipment vendors early, and are already reaping the benefits. This article will take you through 400G Ethernet market trend and some global 400G equipment vendors.

The 400G Era

The emergence of new services, such as 4K VR, Internet of Things (IoT), and cloud computing, raises connected devices and internet users. According to an IEEE report, they forecast that “device connections will grow from 18 billion in 2017 to 28.5 billion devices by 2022.” And the number of internet users will soar “from 3.4 billion in 2017 to 4.8 billion in 2022.” Hence, network traffic is exploding. Indeed, the average annual growth rate of network traffic remains at a high level of 26%.

Annual Growth of Network Traffic
Annual Growth of Network Traffic

Facing the rapid growth of network traffic, 100GE/200GE ports are unable to meet the demand for network connectivity from a large number of customers. Many organizations and enterprises, especially hyperscale data centers and cloud operators, are aggressively adopting next-generation 400G network infrastructure to help address workloads. 400G provides the ideal solution for operators to meet high-capacity network requirements, reduce operational costs, and achieve sustainability goals. Due to the good development prospects of 400G market, many IT infrastructure providers are scrambling to layout and join the 400G market competition, launching a variety of 400G products. Dell’Oro group indicates “the ecosystem of 400G technologies, from silicon to optics, is ramping.” Starting in 2021, large-scale deployments will contribute meaningful market. They forecast that 400G shipments will exceed 15 million ports by 2023, and 400G will be widely deployed in all of the largest core networks in the world. In addition, according to GLOBE NEWSWIRE, the global 400G transceiver market is expected to be at $22.6 billion in 2023. 400G Ethernet is about to be deployed at scale, leading to the arrival of the 400G era.

400G Growth

Companies Offering 400G Networking Equipment

Many top companies seized the good opportunity of the fast-growing 400G market, and launched various 400G equipment. Many well-known IT infrastructure providers, which laid out 400G products early on, have become the key players in the 400G market after years of development, such as Cisco, Arista, Juniper, etc.

400G Equipment Vendors
400G Equipment Vendors

Cisco

Cisco foresaw the need for the Internet and its infrastructure at a very early stage, and as a result, has put a stake in the ground that no other company has been able to eclipse. Over the years, Cisco has become a top provider of software and solutions and a dominant player in the highly competitive 25/50/100Gb space. Cisco entered the 400G space with its latest networking hardware and optics as announced on October 31, 2018. Its Nexus switches are Cisco’s most important 400G product. Cisco primarily expects to help customers migrate to 400G Ethernet with solutions including Cisco’s ACI (Application Centric Infrastructure), streamlining operations, Cisco Nexus data networking switches, and Cisco Network Assurance Engine (NAE), amongst others. Cisco has seized the market opportunity and is continuing to grow its sales with its 400G products. Cisco reported second-quarter revenue of $12.7 billion, up 6% year over year, demonstrating the good prospects of 400G Ethernet market.

Arista Networks

Arista Networks, founded in 2008, provides software-driven cloud networking solutions for large data center storage and computing environments. Arista is smaller than rival Cisco, but it has made significant gains in market share and product development during the last several years. Arista announced on October 23, 2018, the release of 400G platforms and optics, presenting its entry into the 400G Ethernet market. Nowadays, Arista focuses on its comprehensive 400G platforms that include various series switches and 400G optical modules for large-scale cloud, leaf and spine, routing transformation, and hyperscale IO intensive applications. The launch of Arista’s diverse 400G switches has also resulted in significant sales and market share growth. According to IDC, Arista networks saw a 27.7 percent full year switch ethernet switch revenue rise in 2021. Arista has put legitimate market share pressure on leader Cisco in the tech sector during the past five years.

Juniper Networks

Juniper is a leading provider of networking products. With the arrival of the 400G era, Juniper offers comprehensive 400G routing and switching platforms: packet transport routers, universal routing platforms, universal metro routers, and switches. Recently, it also introduced 400G coherent pluggable optics to further address 400G data communication needs. Juniper believes that 400G will become the new data rate currency for future builds and is fully prepared for the 400G market competition. And now, Juniper has become the key player in the 400G market.

Huawei Technologies

Huawei, a massive Chinese tech company, is gaining momentum in its data center networking business. Huawei is already in the “challenger” category to the above-mentioned industry leaders—getting closer to the line of “leader” area. On OFC 2018, Huawei officially released its 400G optical network solution for commercial use, joining the ranks of 400G product vendors. Hence, it achieves obvious economic growth. Huawei accounted for 28.7% of the global communication equipment market last year, an increase of 7% year on year. As Huawei’s 400G platforms continue to roll out, related sales are expected to rise further. The broad Chinese market will also further strengthen Huawei’s leading position in the global 400G space.

FS

Founded in 2009, FS is a global high-tech company providing high-speed communication network solutions and services to several industries. Through continuous technology upgrades, professional end-to-end supply chain, and brand partnership with top vendors, FS services customers across 200 countries – with the industry’s most comprehensive and innovative solution portfolio. FS is one of the earliest 400G vendors in the world, with a diverse portfolio of 400G products, including 400G switches, optical transceivers, cables, etc. FS thinks 400G Ethernet is an inevitable trend in the current networking market, and has seized this good opportunity to gain a large number of loyal customers in the 400G market. In the future, FS will continue to provide customers with high-quality and reliable 400G products for the migration to 400G Ethernet.

Getting Started with 400G Ethernet

400G is the next generation of cloud infrastructure, driving next-generation data center networks. Many organizations and enterprises are planning to migrate to 400G. The companies mentioned above have provided 400G solutions for several years, making them a good choice for enterprises. There are also lots of other organizations trying to enter the ranks of 400G manufacturers and vendors, driving the growing prosperity of the 400G market. Remember to take into account your business needs and then choose the right 400G product manufacturer and vendor for your investment or purchase.

Data Center Containment: Types, Benefits & Challenges

Over the past decade, data center containment has experienced a high rate of implementation by many data centers. It can greatly improve the predictability and efficiency of traditional data center cooling systems. This article will elaborate on what data center containment is, common types of it, and their benefits and challenges.

What Is Data Center Containment?

Data center containment is the separation of cold supply air from the hot exhaust air from IT equipment so as to reduce operating cost, optimize power usage effectiveness, and increase cooling capacity. Containment systems enable uniform and stable supply air temperature to the intake of IT equipment and a warmer, drier return air to cooling infrastructure.

Types of Data Center Containment

There are mainly two types of data center containment, hot aisle containment and cold aisle containment.

Hot aisle containment encloses warm exhaust air from IT equipment in data center racks and returns it back to cooling infrastructure. The air from the enclosed hot aisle is returned to cooling equipment via a ceiling plenum or duct work, and then the conditioned air enters the data center via raised floor, computer room air conditioning (CRAC) units, or duct work.

Hot aisle containment

Cold aisle containment encloses cold aisles where cold supply air is delivered to cool IT equipment. So the rest of the data center becomes a hot-air return plenum where the temperature can be high. Physical barriers such as solid metal panels, plastic curtains, or glass are used to allow for proper airflow through cold aisles.

Cold aisle containment

Hot Aisle vs. Cold Aisle

There are mixed views on whether it’s better to contain the hot aisle or the cold aisle. Both containment strategies have their own benefits as well as challenges.

Hot aisle containment benefits

  • The open areas of the data center are cool, so that visitors to the room will not think the IT equipment is not being cooled sufficiently. In addition, it allows for some low density areas to be un-contained if desired.
  • It is generally considered to be more effective. Any leakages that come from raised floor openings in the larger part of the room go into the cold space.
  • With hot aisle containment, low-density network racks and stand-alone equipment like storage cabinets can be situated outside the containment system, and they will not get too hot, because they are able to stay in the lower temperature open areas of the data center.
  • Hot aisle containment typically adjoins the ceiling where fire suppression is installed. With a well-designed space, it will not affect normal operation of a standard grid fire suppression system.

Hot aisle containment challenges

  • It is generally more expensive. A contained path is needed for air to flow from the hot aisle all the way to cooling units. Often a drop ceiling is used as return air plenum.
  • High temperatures in the hot aisle can be undesirable for data center technicians. When they need to access IT equipment and infrastructure, a contained hot aisle can be a very uncomfortable place to work. But this problem can be mitigated using temporary local cooling.

Cold aisle containment benefits

  • It is easy to implement without the need for additional architecture to contain and return exhaust air such as a drop ceiling or air plenum.
  • Cold aisle containment is less expensive to install as it only requires doors at ends of aisles and baffles or roof over the aisle.
  • Cold aisle containment is typically easier to retrofit in an existing data center. This is particularly true for data centers that have overhead obstructions such as existing duct work, lighting and power, and network distribution.

Cold aisle containment challenges

  • When utilizing a cold aisle system, the rest of the data center becomes hot, resulting in high return air temperatures. It also may create operational issues if any non-contained equipment such as low-density storage is installed in the general data center space.
  • The conditioned air that leaks from the openings under equipment like PDUs and raised floor tend to enter air paths that return to cooling units. This reduces the efficiency of the system.
  • In many cases, cold aisles have intermediate ceilings over the aisle. This may affect the overall fire protection and lighting design, especially when added to an existing data center.

How to Choose the Best Containment Option?

Every data center is unique. To find the most suitable option, you have to take into account a number of aspects. The first thing is to evaluate your site and calculate the Cooling Capacity Factor (CCF) of the computer room. Then observe the unique layout and architecture of each computer room to discover conditions that make hot aisle or cold aisle containment preferable. With adequate information and careful consideration, you will be able to choose the best containment option for your data center.

Article Source: Data Center Containment: Types, Benefits & Challenges

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The Chip Shortage: Current Challenges, Predictions, and Potential Solutions

The COVID-19 pandemic caused several companies to shut down, and the implications were reduced production and altered supply chains. In the tech world, where silicon microchips are the heart of everything electronic, raw material shortage became a barrier to new product creation and development.

During the lockdown periods, some essential workers were required to stay home, which meant chip manufacturing was unavailable for several months. By the time lockdown was lifted and the world embraced the new normal, the rising demand for consumer and business electronics was enough to ripple up the supply chain.

Below, we’ve discussed the challenges associated with the current chip shortage, what to expect moving forward, and the possible interventions necessary to overcome the supply chain constraints.

Challenges Caused by the Current Chip Shortage

As technology and rapid innovation sweeps across industries, semiconductor chips have become an essential part of manufacturing – from devices like switches, wireless routers, computers, and automobiles to basic home appliances.

devices

To understand and quantify the impact this chip shortage has caused spanning the industry, we’ll need to look at some of the most affected sectors. Here’s a quick breakdown of how things have unfolded over the last eighteen months.

Automobile Industry

in North America and Europe had slowed or stopped production due to a lack of computer chips. Major automakers like Tesla, Ford, BMW, and General Motors have all been affected. The major implication is that the global automobile industry will manufacture 4 million fewer cars by the end of 2021 than earlier planned, and it will forfeit an average of $110 billion in revenue.

Consumer Electronics

Consumer electronics such as desktop PCs and smartphones rose in demand throughout the pandemic, thanks to the shift to virtual learning among students and the rise in remote working. At the start of the pandemic, several automakers slashed their vehicle production forecasts before abandoning open semiconductor chip orders. And while the consumer electronics industry stepped in and scooped most of those microchips, the supply couldn’t catch up with the demand.

Data Centers

Most chip fabrication companies like Samsung Foundries, Global Foundries, and TSMC prioritized high-margin orders from PC and data center customers during the pandemic. And while this has given data centers a competitive edge, it isn’t to say that data centers haven’t been affected by the global chip shortage.

data center

Some of the components data centers have struggled to source include those needed to put together their data center switching systems. These include BMC chips, capacitors, resistors, circuit boards, etc. Another challenge is the extended lead times due to wafer and substrate shortages, as well as reduced assembly capacity.

LED Lighting

LED backlights common in most display screens are powered by hard-to-find semiconductor chips. The prices of gadgets with LED lighting features are now highly-priced due to the shortage of raw materials and increased market demand. This is expected to continue up to the beginning of 2022.

Renewable Energy- Solar and Turbines

Renewable energy systems, particularly solar and turbines, rely on semiconductors and sensors to operate. The global supply chain constraints have hurt the industry and even forced some energy solutions manufacturers like Enphase Energy to

Semiconductor Trends: What to Expect Moving Forward

In response to the global chip shortage, several component manufacturers have ramped up production to help mitigate the shortages. However, top electronics and semiconductor manufacturers say the crunch will only worsen before it gets better. Most of these industry leaders speculate that the semiconductor shortage could persist into 2023.

Based on the ongoing disruption and supply chain volatility, various analysts in a recent CNBC article and Bloomberg interview echoed their views, and many are convinced that the coming year will be challenging. Here are some of the key takeaways:

Pat Gelsinger, CEO of Intel Corp., noted in April 2021 that the chip shortage would recover after a couple of years.

DigiTimes Report found that Intel and AMD server ICs and data centers have seen their lead times extend to 45 to 66 weeks.

The world’s third-largest EMS and OEM provider, Flex Ltd., expects the global semiconductor shortage to proceed into 2023.

In May 2021, Global Foundries, the fourth-largest contract semiconductor manufacturer, signed a $1.6 billion, 3-year silicon supply deal with AMD, and in late June, it launched its new $4 billion, 300mm-wafer facility in Singapore. Yet, the company says its production capacity will only increase component production earliest in 2023.

TMSC, one of the leading pure-play foundries in the industry, says it won’t meaningfully increase the component output until 2023. However, it’s optimistic that the company will ramp up the fabrication of automotive micro-controllers by 60% by the end of 2021.

From the industry insights above, it’s evident that despite the many efforts that major players put into resolving the global chip shortage, the bottlenecks will probably persist throughout 2022.

Additionally, some industry observers believe that the move by big tech companies such as Amazon, Microsoft, and Google to design their own chips for cloud and data center business could worsen the chip shortage crisis and other problems facing the semiconductor industry.

article, the authors hint that the entry of Microsoft, Amazon, and Google into the chip design market will be a turning point in the industry. These tech giants have the resources to design superior and cost-effective chips of their own, something most chip designers like Intel have in limited proportions.

Since these tech giants will become independent, each will be looking to create component stockpiles to endure long waits and meet production demands between inventory refreshes. Again, this will further worsen the existing chip shortage.

Possible Solutions

To stay ahead of the game, major industry players such as chip designers and manufacturers and the many affected industries have taken several steps to mitigate the impacts of the chip shortage.

For many chip makers, expanding their production capacity has been an obvious response. Other suppliers in certain regions decided to stockpile and limit exports to better respond to market volatility and political pressures.

Similarly, improving the yields or increasing the number of chips manufactured from a silicon wafer is an area that many manufacturers have invested in to boost chip supply by some given margin.

chip manufacturing

Here are the other possible solutions that companies have had to adopt:

Embracing flexibility to accommodate older chip technologies that may not be “state of the art” but are still better than nothing.

Leveraging software solutions such as smart compression and compilation to build efficient AI models to help unlock hardware capabilities.

LED Lighting

The latest global chip shortage has led to severe shocks in the semiconductor supply chain, affecting several industries from automobile, consumer electronics, data centers, LED, and renewables.

Industry thought leaders believe that shortages will persist into 2023 despite the current build-up in mitigation measures. And while full recovery will not be witnessed any time soon, some chip makers are optimistic that they will ramp up fabrication to contain the demand among their automotive customers.

That said, staying ahead of the game is an all-time struggle considering this is an issue affecting every industry player, regardless of size or market position. Expanding production capacity, accommodating older chip technologies, and leveraging software solutions to unlock hardware capabilities are some of the promising solutions.

Added

This article is being updated continuously. If you want to share any comments on FS switches, or if you are inclined to test and review our switches, please email us via media@fs.com or inform us on social media platforms. We cannot wait to hear more about your ideas on FS switches.

Article Source: The Chip Shortage: Current Challenges, Predictions, and Potential Solutions

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Infographic – What Is a Data Center?

The Most Common Data Center Design Missteps

Introduction

Data center design is to provide IT equipment with a high-quality, standard, safe, and reliable operating environment, fully meeting the environmental requirements for stable and reliable operation of IT devices and prolonging the service life of computer systems. Data center design is the most important part of data center construction directly relating to the success or failure of data center long term planning, so its design should be professional, advanced, integral, flexible, safe, reliable, and practical.

9 Missteps in Data Center Design

Data center design is one of the effective solutions to overcrowded or outdated data centers, while inappropriate design results in obstacles for growing enterprises. Poor planning can lead to a waste of valuable funds and more issues, increasing operating expenses. Here are 9 mistakes to be aware of when designing a data center.

Miscalculation of Total Cost

Data center operation expense is made up of two key components: maintenance costs and operating costs. Maintenance costs refer to the costs associated with maintaining all critical facility support infrastructure, such as OEM equipment maintenance contracts, data center cleaning fees, etc. Operating costs refer to costs associated with day-to-day operations and field personnel, such as the creation of site-specific operational documentation, capacity management, and QA/QC policies and procedures. If you plan to build or expand a business-critical data center, the best approach is to focus on three basic parameters: capital expenditures, operating and maintenance expenses, and energy costs. Taking any component out of the equation, you might face the case that the model does not properly align an organization’s risk profile and business spending profile.

Unspecified Planning and Infrastructure Assessment

Infrastructure assessment and clear planning are essential processes for data center construction. For example, every construction project needs to have a chain of command that clearly defines areas of responsibility and who is responsible for aspects of data center design. Those who are involved need to evaluate the potential applications of the data center infrastructure and what types of connectivity requirements they need. In general, planning involves a rack-by-rack blueprint, including network connectivity and mobile devices, power requirements, system topology, cooling facilities, virtual local and on-premises networks, third-party applications, and operational systems. For the importance of data center design, you should have a thorough understanding of the functionality before it begins. Otherwise, you’ll fall short and cost more money to maintain.

data center

Inappropriate Design Criteria

Two missteps can send enterprises into an overspending death spiral. First of all, everyone has different design ideas, but not everyone is right. Second, the actual business is mismatched with the desired vision and does not support the setting of kilowatts per square foot or rack. Over planning in design is a waste of capital. Higher-level facilities also result in higher operational and energy costs. A data center designer establishes the proper design criteria and performance characteristics and then builds capital expenditure and operating expenses around it.

Unsuitable Data Center Site

Enterprises often need to find a perfect building location when designing a data center. If you don’t get some site-critical information, it will lead to some cases. Large users are well aware of the data center and have concerns about power availability and cost, fiber optics, and irresistible factors. Baseline users often have business model shells in their core business areas that decide whether they need to build or refurbish. Hence, premature site selection or unreasonable geographic location will fail to meet the design requirements.

Pre-design Space Planning

It is also very important to plan the space capacity inside the data center. The raised floor to support ratio can be as high as 1 to 1, while the mechanical and electrical equipment needs enough space to accommodate. In addition, the planning of office and IT equipment storage areas also needed to be considered. Therefore, it is very critical to estimate and plan the space capacity during data center design. Estimation errors can make the design of a data center unsuitable for the site space, which means suspending project re-evaluation and possibly repurchasing components.

Mismatched Business Goals

Enterprises need to clearly understand their business goals when debugging a data center so that they can complete the data center design. After meeting the business goals, something should be considered, such as which specific applications the data center supports, additional computing power, and later business expansion. Additionally, enterprises need to communicate these goals to data center architects, engineers, and builders to ensure that the overall design meets business needs.

Design Limitations

The importance of modular design is well-publicized in the data center industry. Although the modular approach refers to adding extra infrastructure in an immediate mode to preserve capital, it doesn’t guarantee complete success. Modular and flexible design is the key to long-term stable operation, also meets your data center plans. On the power system, you have to take note of adding UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) capacity to existing modules without system disruption. Input and output distribution system design shouldn’t be overlooked, it can allow the data center to adapt to any future changes in the underlying construction standards.

Improper Data Center Power Equipment

To design a data center to maximize equipment uptime and reduce power consumption, you must choose the right power equipment based on the projected capacity. Typically, you might use redundant computing to predict triple server usage to ensure adequate power, which is a waste. Long-term power consumption trends are what you need to consider. Install automatic power-on generators and backup power sources, and choose equipment that can provide enough power to support the data center without waste.

Over-complicated Design

In many cases, redundant targets introduce some complexity. If you add multiple ways to build a modular system, things can quickly get complicated. The over-complexity of data center design means more equipment and components, and these components are the source of failure, which can cause problems such as:

  • Human error. Data statistics errors lead to system data vulnerability and increase operational risks.
  • Expensive. In addition to equipment and components, the maintenance of components failure also incurs more charges.
  • Design concept. If maintainability wasn’t considered by the data center design when the IT team has the requirements of operating or servicing, system operational normality even human security get impacts.

Conclusion

Avoid the nine missteps above to find design solutions for data center IT infrastructure and build a data center that suits your business. Data center design missteps have some impacts on enterprises, such as business expansion, infrastructure maintenance, and security risks. Hence, all infrastructure facilities and data center standards must be rigorously estimated during data center design to ensure long-term stable operation within a reasonable budget.

Article Source: The Most Common Data Center Design Missteps

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Impact of Chip Shortage on Datacenter Industry

As the global chip shortage let rip, many chip manufacturers have to slow or even halt semiconductor production. Makers of all kinds of electronics such as switches, PCs, servers are all scrambling to get enough chips in the pipeline to match the surging demand for their products. Every manufacturer, supplier and solution provider in datacenter industry is feeling the impact of the ongoing chip scarcity. However, relief is nowhere in sight yet.

What’s Happening?

Due to the rise of AI and cloud computing, datacenter chips have been a highly charged topic in recent times. As networking switches and modern servers, indispensable equipment in datacenter applications, use more advanced components than an average consumer’s PC, naturally when it comes to chip manufacturers and suppliers, data centers are given the top priority. However, with the demand for data center machines far outstripping supply, chip shortages may continue to be pervasive across the next few years. Coupled with economic uncertainties caused by the pandemic, it further puts stress on datacenter management.

According to a report from the Dell’Oro Group, robust datacenter switch sales over the past year could foretell a looming shortage. As the mismatch in supply and demand keeps growing, enterprises looking to buy datacenter switches face extended lead times and elevated costs over the course of the next year.

“So supply is decreasing and demand is increasing,” said Sameh Boujelbene, leader of the analyst firm’s campus and data-center research team. “There’s a belief that things will get worse in the second half of the year, but no consensus on when it’ll start getting better.”

Back in March, Broadcom said that more than 90% of its total chip output for 2021 had already been ordered by customers, who are pressuring it for chips to meet booming demand for servers used in cloud data centers and consumer electronics such as 5G phones.

“We intend to meet such demand, and in doing so, we will maintain our disciplined process of carefully reviewing our backlog, identifying real end-user demand, and delivering products accordingly,” CEO Hock Tan said on a conference call with investors and analysts.

Major Implications

Extended Lead Times

Arista Networks, one of the largest data center networking switch vendors and a supplier of switches to cloud providers, foretells that switch-silicon lead times will be extended to as long as 52 weeks.

“The supply chain has never been so constrained in Arista history,” the company’s CEO, Jayshree Ullal, said on an earnings call. “To put this in perspective, we now have to plan for many components with 52-week lead time. COVID has resulted in substrate and wafer shortages and reduced assembly capacity. Our contract manufacturers have experienced significant volatility due to country specific COVID orders. Naturally, we’re working more closely with our strategic suppliers to improve planning and delivery.”

Hock Tan, CEO of Broadcom, also acknowledged on an earnings call that the company had “started extending lead times.” He said, “part of the problem was that customers were now ordering more chips and demanding them faster than usual, hoping to buffer against the supply chain issues.”

Elevated Cost

Vertiv, one of the biggest sellers of datacenter power and cooling equipment, mentioned it had to delay previously planned “footprint optimization programs” due to strained supply. The company’s CEO, Robert Johnson, said on an earnings call, “We have decided to delay some of those programs.”

Supply chain constraints combined with inflation would cause “some incremental unexpected costs over the short term,” he said, “To share the cost with our customers where possible may be part of the solution.”

“Prices are definitely going to be higher for a lot of devices that require a semiconductor,” says David Yoffie, a Harvard Business School professor who spent almost three decades serving on the board of Intel.

Conclusion

There is no telling that how the situation will continue playing out and, most importantly, when supply and demand might get back to normal. Opinions vary on when the shortage will end. The CEO of chipmaker STMicro estimated that the shortage will end by early 2023. Intel CEO Patrick Gelsinger said it could last two more years.

As a high-tech network solutions and services provider, FS has been actively working with our customers to help them plan for, adapt to, and overcome the supply chain challenges, hoping that we can both ride out this chip shortage crisis. At least, we cannot lose hope, as advised by Bill Wyckoff, vice president at technology equipment provider SHI International, “This is not an ‘all is lost’ situation. There are ways and means to keep your equipment procurement and refresh plans on track if you work with the right partners.”

Article Source: Impact of Chip Shortage on Datacenter Industry

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Infographic – What Is a Data Center?FacebookTwitterEmail分享

Data Center White Space and Gray Space

Nowadays, with the advent of the 5G era and the advancement of technology, more and more enterprises rely on IT for almost any choice. Therefore, their demand for better data center services has increased dramatically.

However, due to the higher capital and operating costs caused by the cluttered distribution of equipment in data centers, the space has become one of the biggest factors restricting data centers. In order to solve that problem, it’s necessary to optimize the utilization of existing space, for example, to consolidate white space and gray space in data centers.

What is data center white space?

Data center white space refers to the space where IT equipment and infrastructure are located. It includes servers, storage, network gear, racks, air conditioning units, power distribution systems.

White space is usually measured in square feet, ranging anywhere from a few hundred to a hundred thousand square feet. It can be either raised floor or hard floor (solid floor). Raised floors are developed to provide locations for power cabling, tracks for data cabling, cold air distribution systems for IT equipment cooling, etc. It can have access to all elements easily. Different from raised floors, cooling and cabling systems for hard floors are installed overhead. Today, there is a trend from raised floors to hard floors.

Typically, the white space area is the only productive area where an enterprise can utilize the data center space. Moreover, online activities like working from home have increased rapidly in recent years, especially due to the impact of COVID-19, which has increased business demand for data center white space. Therefore, the enterprise has to design data center white space with care.data center white space

What is data center gray space?

Different from data center white space, data center gray space refers to the space where back-end equipment is located. This includes switchgear, UPS, transformers, chillers, and generators.

The existence of gray space is to support the white space, therefore the amount of gray space in equipment is determined by the space assigned for data center white space. The more white space is needed, the more backend infrastructure is required to support it.data center gray space

How to improve the efficiency of space?

Building more data centers and consuming more energy is not a good option for IT organizations to make use of data center space. To increase data center sustainability and reduce energy costs, it’s necessary to use some strategies to combine data center white space and gray space, thus optimizing the efficiency of data center space.

White Space Efficiency Strategies

  • Virtualized technology: The technology of virtualization can integrate many virtual machines into physical machines, reducing physical hardware and saving lots of data center space. Virtualization management systems such as VMware and Hyper V can create a virtualized environment.
  • Cloud computing resources: With the help of the public cloud, enterprises can transfer data through the public internet, thus reducing their needs for physical servers and other IT infrastructure.
  • Data center planning: DCIM software, a kind of data center infrastructure management tool, can help estimate current and future power and server needs. It can also help data centers track and manage resources and optimize their size to save more space.
  • Monitor power and cooling capacity: In addition to the capacity planning about space, monitoring power, and cooling capacity is also necessary to properly configure equipment.

Gray Space Efficiency Strategies

  • State-of-art technologies: Technologies like flywheels can increase the power of the machine, reducing the number of batteries required for the power supply. Besides, the use of solar panels can reduce data center electricity bills. And water cooling can also help reduce the costs of cooling solutions.

Compared with white space efficiency techniques, grace space efficiency strategies are pretty less. However, the most efficient plan is to combine data center white space with gray space. By doing so, enterprises can realize the optimal utilization of data center space.

Article Source: Data Center White Space and Gray Space

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Infographic – What Is a Data Center?

The Internet is where we store and receive a huge amount of information. Where is all the information stored? The answer is data centers. At its simplest, a data center is a dedicated place that organizations use to house their critical applications and data. Here is a short look into the basics of data centers. You will get to know the data center layout, the data pathway, and common types of data centers.

what is a data center

To know more about data centers, click here.

Article Source: Infographic – What Is a Data Center?

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What Is a Containerized Data Center: Pros and Cons

The rise of the digital economy has promoted the rapid and vigorous development of industries like cloud computing, Internet of Things, and big data, which have put forward higher requirements for data centers. The drawbacks of traditional data centers have emerged gradually, which are increasingly unable to meet the needs of the market. The prefabricated containerized data center meets the current market demand and will usher in a period of rapid development.

What Is a Containerized Data Center?

A containerized data center comes equipped with data center infrastructures housed in a container. There are different types of containerized data centers, ranging from simple IT containers to comprehensive all-in-one systems integrating the entire physical IT infrastructure.

Generally, a containerized data center includes networking equipment, servers, cooling system, UPS, cable pathways, storage devices, lighting and physical security systems.

A Containerized Data Center
A Containerized Data Center

Pros of Containerized Data Centers

Portability & Durability

Containerized data centers are fabricated in a manufacturing facility and shipped to the end-user in containers. Due to the container appearance, they are flexible to move and cost-saving compared to traditional data centers. What’s more, containers are dustproof, waterproof, and shock-resistant, making containerized data centers suitable for various harsh environments.

Rapid Deployment

Unlike traditional data centers with limited flexibility and difficult management, containerized data centers are prefabricated and pretested at the factory, and are transported to the deployment site for direct set-up. With access to utility power, network and water, the data center can work well. Therefore, the on-site deployment period for containerized data centers is substantially shortened to 2~3 months, demonstrating rapid and flexible deployment.

Energy Efficiency

Containerized data centers are designed for energy efficiency, which effectively limits ongoing operational costs. They enable power and cooling systems to match capacity and workload well, improving work efficiency and reducing over-configuration. More specifically, containerized data centers adopt in-row cooling systems to deliver air to adjacent hotspots with strict airflow management, which greatly improves cold air utilization, saves space and electricity costs in the server room, and reduces power usage efficiency (PUE).

High Scalability

Because of its unique modular design, a containerized data center is easy to install and scale up. More data centers can be added to the modular architecture of containerized data centers according to the requirements to optimize the IT configuration in a data center. With high scalability, containerized data centers can meet the changing demands of the organization rapidly and effortlessly.

Cons of Containerized Data Centers

Limited Computing Performance: Although it contains the entire IT infrastructure, a containerized data center still lacks the same computing capability as a traditional data center.

Low Security: Isolated containerized data centers are more vulnerable to break-ins than data center buildings. And without numerous built-in redundancies, an entire containerized data center can be shut down by a single point of failure.

Lack of Availability: It is challenging and expensive to provide utilities and networks for containerized data centers placed in edge areas.

Conclusion

Despite some shortcomings, containerized data centers have obvious advantages over traditional data centers. From the perspective of both current short-term investment and future long-term operating costs, containerized data centers have become the future trend of data center construction at this stage.

Article Source: What Is a Containerized Data Center: Pros and Cons

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5G and Multi-Access Edge Computing

Over the years, the Internet of Things and IoT devices have grown tremendously, effectively boosting productivity and accelerating network agility. This technology has also elevated the adoption of edge computing while ushering in a set of advanced edge devices. By adopting edge computing, computational needs are efficiently met since the computing resources are distributed along the communication path, i.e., via a decentralized computing infrastructure.

One of the benefits of edge computing is improved performance as analytics capabilities are brought closer to the machine. An edge data center also reduces operational costs, thanks to the reduced bandwidth requirement and low latency.

Below, we’ve explored more about 5G wireless systems and multi-access edge computing (MEC), an advanced form of edge computing, and how both extend cloud computing benefits to the edge and closer to the users. Keep reading to learn more.

What Is Multi-Access Edge Computing

Multi-access edge computing (MEC) is a relatively new technology that offers cloud computing capabilities at the network’s edge. This technology works by moving some computing capabilities out of the cloud and closer to the end devices. Hence data doesn’t travel as far, resulting in fast processing speeds.

Ideally, there are two types of MEC, dedicated MEC and distributed MEC. Dedicated MEC is typically deployed at the customer’s site on a mobile private network and is designed only for one business. On the other hand, distributed MEC is deployed on a public network, either 4G or 5G, and connects shared assets and resources.

With both the dedicated and distributed MEC, applications run locally, and data is processed in real or near real-time. This helps avoid latency issues for faster response rates and decision-making. MEC technology has seen wider adoption in video analytics, augmented reality, location services, data caching, local content distribution, etc.

How MEC and 5G are Changing Different Industries

At the heart of multi-access edge computing are wireless and radio access network technologies that open up different networks to a wide range of innovative services. Today, 5G technology is the ultimate network that supports ultra-reliable low latency communication. It also provides an enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB) capability for use cases involving significant data rates such as virtual reality and augmented reality.

That said, 5G use cases can be categorized into three domains, massive IoT, mission-critical IoT, and enhanced mobile broadband. Each of the three categories requires different network features regarding security, mobility, bandwidth, policy control, latency, and reliability.

Why MEC Adoption Is on the Rise

5G MEC adoption is growing exponentially, and there are several reasons why this is the case. One reason is that this technology aligns with the distributed and scalable nature of the cloud, making it a key driver of technical transformation. Similarly, MEC technology is a critical business transformation change agent that offers the opportunity to improve service delivery and even support new market verticals.

Among the top use cases driving the high level of 5G, MEC implementation includes video content delivery, the emergence of smart cities, smart utilities (e.g., water and power grids), and connected cars. This also showcases the significant role MEC plays in different IoT domains. Here’s a quick overview of the primary use cases:

  • Autonomous vehicles – 5G MEC can help enhance operational functions such as continuous sensing and real-time traffic monitoring. This reduces latency issues and increases bandwidth.
  • Smart homes – MEC technology can process data locally, boosting privacy and security. It also reduces communication latency and allows for fast mobility and relocation.
  • AR/VR – Moving computational capabilities and processes to edge amplifies the immersive experience to users, plus it extends the battery-life of AR/VR devices.
  • Smart energy – MEC resolves traffic congestion issues and delays due to huge data generation and intermittent connectivity. It also reduces cyber-attacks by enforcing security mechanisms closer to the edge.
MEC Adoption
MEC Adoption

Getting Started With 5G MEC

One of the key benefits of adopting 5G MEC technology is openness, particularly API openness and the option to integrate third-party apps. Standards compliance and application agility are the other value propositions of multi-access edge computing. Therefore, enterprises looking to benefit from a flexible and open cloud should base their integration on the key competencies they want to achieve.

One of the challenges common during the integration process is hardware platforms’ limitations, as far as scale and openness are concerned. Similarly, deploying 5G MEC technology is costly, especially for small-scale businesses with limited financial backing. Other implementation issues include ecosystem and standards immaturity, software limitations, culture, and technical skillset challenges.

To successfully deploy multi-access edge computing, you need an effective 5G MEC implementation strategy that’s true and tested. You should also consider partnering with an expert IT or edge computing company for professional guidance.

5G MEC Technology: Key Takeaways

Edge-driven transformation is a game-changer in the modern business world, and 5G multi-access edge computing technology is undoubtedly leading the cause. Enterprises that embrace this new technology in their business models benefit from streamlined operations, reduced costs, and enhanced customer experience.

Even then, MEC integration isn’t without its challenges. Companies looking to deploy multi-access edge computing technology should have a solid implementation strategy that aligns with their entire digital transformation agenda to avoid silos.

Article Source: 5G and Multi-Access Edge Computing

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Carrier Neutral vs. Carrier Specific: Which to Choose?

As the need for data storage drives the growth of data centers, colocation facilities are increasingly important to enterprises. A colocation data center brings many advantages to an enterprise data center, such as carriers helping enterprises manage their IT infrastructure that reduces the cost for management. There are two types of hosting carriers: carrier-neutral and carrier-specific. In this article, we will discuss the differentiation of them.

Carrier Neutral and Carrier Specific Data Center: What Are They?

Accompanied by the accelerated growth of the Internet, the exponential growth of data has led to a surge in the number of data centers to meet the needs of companies of all sizes and market segments. Two types of carriers that offer managed services have emerged on the market.

Carrier-neutral data centers allow access and interconnection of multiple different carriers while the carriers can find solutions that meet the specific needs of an enterprise’s business. Carrier-specific data centers, however, are monolithic, supporting only one carrier that controls all access to corporate data. At present, most enterprises choose carrier-neutral data centers to support their business development and avoid some unplanned accidents.

There is an example, in 2021, about 1/3 of the cloud infrastructure in AWS was overwhelmed and down for 9 hours. This not only affected millions of websites, but also countless other devices running on AWS. A week later, AWS was down again for about an hour, bringing down the Playstation network, Zoom, and Salesforce, among others. The third downtime of AWS also impacted Internet giants such as Slack, Asana, Hulu, and Imgur to a certain extent. 3 outages of cloud infrastructure in one month took a beyond measure cost to AWS, which also proved the fragility of cloud dependence.

In the above example, we can know that the management of the data center by the enterprise will affect the business development due to some unplanned accidents, which is a huge loss for the enterprise. To lower the risks caused by using a single carrier, enterprises need to choose a carrier-neutral data center and adjust the system architecture to protect their data center.

Why Should Enterprises Choose Carrier Neutral Data Center?

Carrier-neutral data centers are data centers operated by third-party colocation providers, but these third parties are rarely involved in providing Internet access services. Hence, the existence of carrier-neutral data centers enhances the diversity of market competition and provides enterprises with more beneficial options.

Another colocation advantage of a carrier-neutral data center is the ability to change internet providers as needed, saving the labor cost of physically moving servers elsewhere. We have summarized several main advantages of a carrier-neutral data center as follows.

Why Should Enterprises Choose Carrier Neutral Data Center

Redundancy

A carrier-neutral colocation data center is independent of the network operators and not owned by a single ISP. Out of this advantage, it offers enterprises multiple connectivity options, creating a fully redundant infrastructure. If one of the carriers loses power, the carrier-neutral data center can instantly switch servers to another online carrier. This ensures that the entire infrastructure is running and always online. On the network connection, a cross-connect is used to connect the ISP or telecom company directly to the customer’s sub-server to obtain bandwidth from the source. This can effectively avoid network switching to increase additional delay and ensure network performance.

Options and Flexibility

Flexibility is a key factor and advantage for carrier-neutral data center providers. For one thing, the carrier neutral model can increase or decrease the network transmission capacity through the operation of network transmission. And as the business continues to grow, enterprises need colocation data center providers that can provide scalability and flexibility. For another thing, carrier-neutral facilities can provide additional benefits to their customers, such as offering enterprise DR options, interconnect, and MSP services. Whether your business is large or small, a carrier-neutral data center provider may be the best choice for you.

Cost-effectiveness

First, colocation data center solutions can provide a high level of control and scalability, expanding opportunity to storage, which can support business growth and save some expenses. Additionally, it also lowers physical transport costs for enterprises. Second, with all operators in the market competing for the best price and maximum connectivity, a net neutral data center has a cost advantage over a single network facility. What’s more, since freedom of use to any carrier in a carrier-neutral data center, enterprises can choose the best cost-benefit ratio for their needs.

Reliability

Carrier-neutral data centers also boast reliability. One of the most important aspects of a data center is the ability to have 100% uptime. Carrier-neutral data center providers can provide users with ISP redundancy that a carrier-specific data center cannot. Having multiple ISPs at the same time gives better security for all clients. Even if one carrier fails, another carrier may keep the system running. At the same time, the data center service provider provides 24/7 security including all the details and uses advanced technology to ensure the security of login access at all access points to ensure that customer data is safe. Also, the multi-layered protection of the physical security cabinet ensures the safety of data transmission.

Summary

While many enterprises need to determine the best option for their company’s specific business needs, by comparing both carrier-neutral and carrier-specific, choosing a network carrier neutral data center service provider is a better option for today’s cloud-based business customers. Several advantages, such as maximizing total cost, lower network latency, and better network coverage, are of working with a carrier-neutral managed service provider. With no downtime and constant concerns about equipment performance, IT decision-makers for enterprise clients have more time to focus on the more valuable areas that drive continued business growth and success.

Article Source: Carrier Neutral vs. Carrier Specific: Which to Choose?

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Data Center Infrastructure Basics and Management Solutions

Data center infrastructure refers to all the physical components in a data center environment. These physical components play a vital role in the day-to-day operations of a data center. Hence, data center management challenges are an urgent issue that IT departments need to pay attention to. On the one hand, it is to improve the energy efficiency of the data center; on the other hand, it is to know about the operating performance of the data center in real-time ensuring its good working condition and maintaining enterprise development.

Data Center Infrastructure Basics

The standard for data center infrastructure is divided into four tiers, each of which consists of different facilities. They mainly include cabling systems, power facilities, cooling facilities, network infrastructure, storage infrastructure, and computing resources.

There are roughly two types of infrastructure inside a data center: the core components and IT infrastructure. Network infrastructure, storage infrastructure, and computing resources belong to the former, while cooling equipment, power, redundancy, etc. belong to the latter.

Core Components

Network, storage, and computing systems are vital infrastructures for data centers to achieve sharing access to applications and data, providing data centers with shared access to applications and data. Also, they are the core components of data centers.

Network Infrastructure

Datacenter network infrastructure is a combination of network resources, consisting of switches, routers, load balancing, analytics, etc., to facilitate the storage and processing of applications and data. Modern data center networking architectures, through using full-stack networking and security virtualization platforms that support a rich set of data services, can achieve connecting everything from VMs, containers, and bare-metal applications, while enabling centralized management and fine-grained security controls.

Storage Infrastructure

Datacenter storage is a general term for the tools, technologies and processes for designing, implementing, managing and monitoring storage infrastructure and resources in data centers, mainly referring to the equipment and software technologies that implement data and application storage in data center facilities. These include hard drives, tape drives and other forms of internal and external storage and backup management software utilities external storage facilities/solutions.

Computing Resources

A data center meter is a memory and processing power to run applications, usually provided by high-end servers. In the edge computing model, the processing and memory used to run applications on servers may be virtualized, physical, distributed among containers or distributed among remote nodes.

IT Infrastructure

As data centers become critical to enterprise IT operations, it is equally important to keep them running efficiently. When designing data center infrastructure, it is necessary to evaluate its physical environment, including cabling system, power system, cooling system to ensure the security of the physical environment of the data center.

Cabling Systems

The integrated cabling is an important part of data center cable management, supporting the connection, intercommunication and operation of the entire data center network. The system is usually composed of copper cables, optical cables, connectors and wiring equipment. The application of the data center integrated wiring system has the characteristics of high density, high performance, high reliability, fast installation, modularization, future-oriented, and easy application.

Power Systems

Datacenter digital infrastructure requires electricity to operate. Even an interruption of a fraction of a second will result in a significant impact. Hence, power infrastructure is one of the most critical components of a data center. The data center power chain starts at the substation and ends up through building transformers, switches, uninterruptible power supplies, power distribution units, and remote power panels to racks and servers.

Cooling Systems

Data center servers generate a lot of heat while running. Based on this characteristic, cooling is critical to data center operations, aiming to keep systems online. The amount of power each rack can keep cool by itself places a limit on the amount of power a data center can consume. Generally, each rack can allow the data center to operate at an average 5-10 kW cooling density, but some may be higher.

data center

Data Center Infrastructure Management Solutions

Due to the complexity of IT equipment in a data center, the availability, reliability, and maintenance of its components require more attention. Efficient data center operations can be achieved through balanced investments in facilities and accommodating equipment.

Energy Usage Monitoring Equipment

Traditional data centers lack the energy usage monitoring instruments and sensors required to comply with ASHRAE standards and collect measurement data for use in calculating data center PUE. It results in a poor monitoring environment for the power system of the data center. One measure is to install energy monitoring components and systems on power systems to measure data center energy efficiency. Enterprise teams can implement effective strategies by the measure to balance overall energy usage efficiency and effectively monitor the energy usage of all other nodes.

Cooling Facilities Optimization

Independent computer room air conditioning units used in traditional data centers often have separate controls and set points, resulting in excessive operation due to temperature and humidity adjustments. It’s a good way for helping servers to achieve cooling by creating hot-aisle/cold-aisle layouts to maximize the flow of cold air to the equipment intakes and the hot exhaust air from the equipment racks. The creation of hot or cold aisles can eliminate the mixing of hot and cold air by adding partitions or ceilings.

CRAC Efficiency Improvement

Packaged DX air conditioners likely compose the most common type of cooling equipment for smaller data centers. These units are often described as CRAC units. There are, however, there are several ways to improve the energy efficiency of the cooling system employing DX units. Indoor CRAC units are available with a few different heat rejection options.

  • – As with rooftop units, adding evaporative spray can improve the efficiency of air-cooled CRAC units.
  • – A pre-cooling water coil can be added to the CRAC unit upstream of the evaporator coil. When ambient conditions allow the condenser water to be cooled to the extent that it provides direct cooling benefits to the air entering the CRAC unit, the condenser water is diverted to the pre-cooling coil. This will reduce or sometimes eliminate the need for compressor-based cooling for the CRAC unit.

DCIM

Data center infrastructure management is the combination of IT and operations to manage and optimize the performance of data center infrastructure within an organization. DCIM tools help data center operators monitor, measure, and manage the utilization and energy consumption of data center-related equipment and facility infrastructure components, effectively improving the relationship between data center buildings and their systems.

DCIM enables bridging of information across organizational domains such as data center operations, facilities, and IT to maximize data center utilization. Data center operators create flexible and efficient operations by visualizing real-time temperature and humidity status, equipment status, power consumption, and air conditioning workloads in server rooms.

Preventive Maintenance

In addition to the above management and operation solutions for infrastructure, unplanned maintenance is also an aspect to consider. Unplanned maintenance typically costs 3-9 times more than planned maintenance, primarily due to overtime labor costs, collateral damage, emergency parts, and service calls. IT teams can create a recurring schedule to perform preventive maintenance on the data center. Regularly checking the infrastructure status and repairing and upgrading the required components promptly can keep the internal infrastructure running efficiently, as well as extend the lifespan and overall efficiency of the data center infrastructure.

Article Source: Data Center Infrastructure Basics and Management Solutions

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