Fields of Fiber

    Glass Core™ 101: A Network Design for the 21st Century

    Posted by M. H. Raza on Oct 6, 2014 3:50:00 PM
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    Last week, I outlined some of the network challenges data centers currently face and those they’ll encounter in the near future. In short, contemporary network infrastructure models that rely heavily on increasingly expensive and complex hardware are simply not sustainable. That’s because the cost to house, power and cool this equipment is growing rapidly with no end in sight.

    The boundless expansion of networking equipment like switches, servers, routers and patch panels is the problem, and our Glass Core™ architecture is the solution. Glass Core represents a new way of thinking about data center infrastructure management and serves as a departure from inherent complexities found in today’s most common network architectures.

    When I describe our mission to simplify networking, I explain that data center switches, routers, cables and patch panels are simply “plumbing” to provide connectivity among applications that reside in servers or in storage. Imagine a black box that is connected to servers and contains all of this network plumbing and the complexity that comes with managing it; essentially, everything related to network connectivity encompassed in one small box. At the top of the black box is a northbound API that communicates with servers whereby a single server or higher layer application can request a connection between any two server points and the black box delivers that connection.

    In this model, the higher layer applications do not need to know any complex protocols, topologies, or configurations. Other SDN plays can make this claim, but the difference with the Fiber Mountain™ Glass Core is that the connection is not virtual but rather an actual fiber path between end points. Now imagine this concept working when the servers contain silicon photonics and are capable of establishing direct connections between multiple servers.

    The Glass Core is fiber-optic connectivity that replaces a number of complex protocols, boxes, core switches and aggregation switches. Rather than feeding traffic into larger aggregation and core switches, our Glass Core processes packets at the edge of the network and delivers them using PLPs™ or Programmable Light Paths™. We call it the Glass Core because it delivers hundreds of glass fiber strands to every rack to create the PLPs, and the top-of-rack switch is able to steer packets to the appropriate PLP, directed by Fiber Mountain's orchestration system, AllPath Director.

    AllPath Director dynamically discovers the details inside the Glass Core network in real-time. Using this inventory and the desired configuration for the network, it can move a cable connection from one port in the network to another. Fiber Mountain is able to support this fiber-heavy architecture because we can manage thousands of strands of fiber in the core in very small spaces: 1,000 fibers, for example, in one rack unit space.

    Because the Glass Core architecture is built mostly on fiber and optical packet exchange rather than traditional packet processing, it requires very little active hardware. When you remove active hardware from contemporary network models, you reduce power consumption, heat dissipation, cooling costs and physical space requirements.

    We are proud to have developed a revolutionary network design, but the results we’ll deliver to customers with Glass Core are even more important than the technology that drives those outcomes. After all, getting hardware costs and space requirements under control are what matter most to enterprises and data centers. Our mission is simple: Simplify network infrastructure and help data centers scale affordably.


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

    Topics: Glass Core