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

    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.

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    Topics: Glass Core, Network Architecture, SDN

    Taking a ‘Green’ View of Fiber Mountain

    Posted by M. H. Raza on Jan 5, 2015 11:41:17 AM

    As I have said from the outset on this blog, our revolutionary Glass Core™ network design solves a number of problems for contemporary data centers, like the growing complexity of 3-tier architectures and exploding costs. The Fiber Mountain™ approach to network design—combining centralized packet switching SDN control with intelligent fiber cables to achieve what we call connectivity virtualization—allows data centers to break the cycle of regularly expanding their networks by deploying fire-breathing aggregation and core switches.

    When you eliminate the need for such hardware, you also increase efficiency—as packets traversing the network have fewer packet processing hops to make—and lower CAPEX and OPEX by:

    • Reducing the space needed to house network equipment
    • Decreasing heating and cooling costs for hardware
    • Slashing total power needed to run hardware
    • Limiting latency inside the network
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    Topics: Virtualization, Glass Core

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

    Posted by M. H. Raza on Oct 6, 2014 4:50:00 PM
    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.

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    Topics: Glass Core