Fields of Fiber

    Fiber Mountain and Facebook Fabric Networks: Similarities and Differences

    Posted by M. H. Raza on Jan 11, 2015 9:09:00 AM
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    Showing the way...If you’ve been keeping up with data center network news—and if you’re reading this blog I assume you have been—you’ve probably read about Facebook’s new data center fabric. The company recently deployed this new architecture in a data center in Iowa with the goal of increasing scalability and flexibility, both of which are critical for an organization that handles a tremendous amount of network traffic.

    Essentially, Facebook’s new architecture was designed to break away from the aggregation cycle (for more on that, click here) to create a more elegant and efficient network. Rather than continuing to rely on clusters of hundreds of server cabinets with top of rack (TOR) switches aggregated to large core switches, Facebook created a distributed network by disseminating core switching functionality to several spine switches that make the company less reliant on massive hardware from incumbent switch vendors.

    The company built this new architecture by creating 48-node pods, each served by spine switches. It also built its own management software that can automatically configure white box switches; so if Facebook wants to scale by adding a new device in the data center, the software recognizes that new machine and configures it to match Facebook specs. (Click here or here if you’re interested in a more in-depth look at Facebook’s new design).

    What Facebook has done with its new topology is demonstrate that you can build a large, scalable architecture using smaller switches to do the same work as larger devices. They’re using more distributed switching and essentially telling us that the world no longer needs the unwieldy core switch hardware at the middle of the network that incumbent vendors have had so much success selling in recent years. In fact, taken a step further, Facebook’s reliance on white box switches also proves that you can build a large, efficient network without using any switches from the large incumbent vendors.

    Facebook’s architecture aligns closely with how Fiber Mountain™ sees the future of network architecture in several important ways:

    • The massive core switch is no longer necessary
    • SDN is crucial for network configuration and management
    • Scalability and simplicity are growing increasingly important

    But a Fiber Mountain network does differ from Facebook’s in a few important ways. With Fiber Mountain, you can go even simpler in your data center. Our Glass Core™ reduces the number of switches even further than Facebook’s fabric by replacing core and aggregation switches with hundreds of intelligent fiber cables that connect racks directly to each other. As a result, the network design is simpler and requires far less power.

    Our design also offers more flexibility and scalability than any fixed architecture can, because our AllPath Director accesses the physical layer of the network and uses that information to create Programmable Light Path™ (PLP) connections at 10, 40 or 100Gbps between any two points on the network. The AllPath Director also creates a separate data plane across these PLPs with centralized management and control plane functions located within the AllPath Director. With our orchestration system and the Glass Core, every section of the network is software controlled and can be configured as you like from a single screen.

    Facebook showed us how a large deployment can be completed without massive core switches, a concept that is central to Fiber Mountain’s mission to transform network architecture. However, like other large data centers that have built their own architectures, Facebook needed to create its own orchestration system to manage the network. Fiber Mountain built an orchestration system that our customers are using to make their networks less reliant on incumbent switch vendors and at the same time making their networks more efficient.

    How will Glass Core transform your network?  Contact Fiber Mountain today!

    Topics: Glass Core, Network Architecture, SDN