By Farhad Ghoreishi, Enterprise Business Development Manager, HP Networking EMEA
Network architectures in the data centre must be modernised or risk limiting the performance gains available from server virtualisation. We’ve been through this transformation in HP and have been busy building demonstrations and technical breakout sessions to share our experiences and solutions with you at HP DISCOVER Vienna in November.
I’ve been in the IT business for 21 years and have worked through the industry’s relatively recent transition towards virtualisation and cloud computing. As a precursor to the battle against underutilised server sprawl, server consolidation using virtualisation has taken us back to square one. We now have even more virtual servers, but with some key differences. Instead of having lots of smaller, dedicated underutilised servers we have a lot of larger servers hosting many virtual loads with optimised sizing. As a result these servers have much larger network links that require intelligent allocation of bandwidth to the various virtual loads sharing the same physical NICs. The server teams use virtual machine mobility to increase availability and optimise resource utilisation.
Network traffic report
The increase in the number and the mobility of servers means there is now much more East-West traffic than the traditional North-South flows. Existing network architectures are overloading the core and the distribution layer by pushing this East-West traffic up to the distribution layer or even to the core. This is a limitation that can partly be removed by eliminating one or two layers and by making all links active in the infrastructure rather than having half of them blocked by Spanning Tree.
- Increased port density in virtualised chassis including TOR switches enables reduction of layers
- Improved network performance by activating all links between switches versus Spanning Tree which blocks half of the them
- Improved failover by removing the need for VRRP to manage the default gateway failure
The emerging pattern is that the network is increasingly critical to this data centre transformation game and it is time to re-architect the old networks which where once designed as the backbone for yesterday’s static data centres.
I have been working with my HP Networking technical team over the last few months to set up very compelling demos and content to show you how this can be done. To see it all, I invite you to HP DISCOVER Vienna and encourage you to visit our FlexFabric stand on the event exhibition floor. You can also attend several breakout sessions and labs to explain it all. HP FlexFabric is the flat, flexible, virtualisation optimised and inherently secure data centre network architecture defined within the HP FlexNetwork.
Discover HP FlexFabric
Visit us on this stand to see our range of data centre switches, routers and Top of Rack solutions that combine power and cooling optimisation with single operating environment for firmware simplicity to achieve modular scalability. They also leverage the HP Intelligent Resilient Framework technology [IRF]. Using virtualisation, IRF clusters 2 or more network elements into a single virtual entity which delivers high availability, increase of port density into a single entity and a considerable simplification of management as this virtual entity will basically be seen as a single switch.
I mentioned how beneficial it would be to retire some protocols like STP or VRRP that block very expensive links and add tons of latency into the network. Well, IRF enables this and as a result, provides means for collapsing a 3 tier network down to a 2 tier [core + access] architecture, thus eliminating the need for the distribution layer. The combination of HP BladeSystem and HP Virtual Connect and IRF consolidating the HP Core can help reduce the network to a core + server edge design.
So, as a network architect would I want to reduce my network complexity (cables, number of ports, number of switches and number of layers) by around 85%? Would I want to reduce my costs by 65% or more? Wouldn’t I want to reduce my network power consumption (typically 10-13% of the data centre consumption) by around 50%? Would I say yes to dramatically simplifying my network management? Well of course I would! And I hope you would as well.
Recommended HP DISCOVER sessions for data centre networking fans
Here is a selection of our data centre networking sessions at HP DISCOVER. Keep an eye out for the sessions presented by our customers where they share their own IT experiences and how they have optimised their networks with HP.
>> Learn more about HP Networking products and solutions.