The Ethernet Fabric Lining for Your Cloud Computing

The cloud is still an airy place that many are hesitant to ascend to. But no one can deny the huge growth in successful cloud computing in the past few years. It offers companies more freedom at less cost, and will soon be the most popular way to do business. However, with this jump into the cloud, traditional Ethernet is no longer the best solution. Many who use virtualization and cloud computing are switching to a new technology called Ethernet fabric.

In traditional Ethernet, a data center will have a group of switches to accommodate the high number of ports needed. Generally, the network is organized with some switches at the top of racks, some in the middle and some at the ends. They are all connected which forms a hierarchical Ethernet tree of sorts, and allows for traffic flow only on a north south axis. For two decades, there has been a three layer design with an access layer at the bottom, an aggregation layer in the middle, and a core layer topping the tree. Routing is only happening in the core layer, so to talk to a server on a different part of the network, you would have to travel up through the three layers and then back down again. Adding on server clusters will allow some traffic move east to west, but this branching out of the tree create more latency and restricts the bandwidth. On top of this, each switch has to process it’s own information and be configured individually, which takes extra time.

With Ethernet fabric, you will find a simpler way to have better performance, and higher levels of availability and utilization. Basically, it is a flat, double network, self-healing fabric which is designed to work beyond the three layer limitations or traditional Ethernet. It doesn’t use a spanning tree to stop the occurrence of loops and uses every single self-forming inter switch link to insure the shortest path is travelled. The self healing comes into play when a link becomes unavailable — all other traffic on all other inter switch links in the fabric continue. The fabric is also flexible and can be designed in any format to fit the needs of your workload. Along the same vein, it is elastic and can efficiently scale up or down as needed. With advanced Ethernet fabric. you can managed the system from the domain rather than the device, and you can make decisions based on policy instead of repetitive procedures. The fabric with the addition of virtualization-specific enhancements will make VM automation within the network and IT automation a breeze.

Brocade is one of the leading producers in Ethernet fabric and have recently helped a Belgian media company, called De Persgroep, to upgrade and better manage its datacenter networking. Using an Ethernet fabric and Brocade’s VDX 6720 switches, they were able to eliminate the need for a jumble of network wiring to a massive switch, add to the number of physical network ports, open the company’s capacity for growth, and severely reduce bottlenecks.