How the Space Race for Data Centers Helps Everyone

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A lot of the household products that we take for granted and use every day were created as by-products of the space race. We take for granted well-known products that NASA claims as spin-offs include memory foam (originally named temper foam), freeze-dried food, firefighting equipment, emergency “space blankets“, Dustbusters, and cochlear implants to name just a few. Each was created out of necessity in order to further the space race. These happy side-products were only possible because of the massive government investments involved and now, they benefit our everyday lives. Interestingly, NASA didn’t invent Velcro, Tang or Teflon but as of 2012, NASA claimed that there are nearly 1,800 spin-off products in the fields of computer technology, environment and agriculture, health and medicine, public safety, transportation, recreation, and industrial productivity. And everyone knows that Star Trek was indirectly responsible for inspiring cell phone technology. Sorry, but who can resist? Beam me up Scotty.

Similarly, there is a sort of Internet “space race” of data centers that has been quietly underway for years now. As the hyperscalers have built increasingly massive datacenters to better serve the needs and scale of the Internet users, out of necessity, they have also created a number of innovations that are applicable to server deployments of every size. Well known Webscale IT innovations include: MapReduce/Hadoop, Mesos(Borg), and Containerization.  These happy side-projects were only possible because of massive hyperscale investments and now they benefit our everyday datacenter lives.

Just as consumers don’t need to be NASA and Star Trek to appreciate Dustbusters or even their beloved cell phones, IT professionals also don’t need social media to appreciate network automation. All datacenters can benefit from automation. They also benefit from higher speed networks.

Cloud computing and 25/100GbE

Cloud computing is constantly evolving. In 2012, Cloud based servers demanded 10 Gigabit Ethernet connectivity because the 1 Gigabit NICs so common at that time were hindering performance. Fast forward to 2016 and 10 Gigabit Ethernet can now be a bottleneck for modern server platforms which have leapt forward in performance; in the number of CPU cores and VMs they can support. Cloud Service providers are leveraging these new server platforms to increase the VM density per server, which has a corresponding increase in their profits.

These modern servers with their higher core count, higher VM density, and flash based storage are now bottlenecked by 10GbE connections and need high speed 25 Gigabit Ethernet connectivity. So too, the data center switch interconnects are moving from 40 Gigabit Ethernet to a technology with similar cost structures but with 2.5 times the bandwidth; 100 Gigabit Ethernet.

Cloud Computing is not just about speeds and feeds or about where workloads are located. Cloud computing requires a scalable provisioning framework that is automatic in nature. The best practices for network automation developed for the largest data centers in the world apply to every cloud based network.

Get up to speed on Cloud innovations, now!

Join my upcoming webinar, 25/100GbE and Network Automation for the Cloud, with Dinesh Dutt from Cumulus where we will discuss the tips and tricks to automating a data center as well as the Webscale data-plane innovations that drive server bandwidth to 25GbE, including OVS offload, RDMA, and VXLAN acceleration. I promise to keep my space references to a minimum.

See you on September 14, 2016 at 10:00 a.m. PT!





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