16 Nov 2010
Service providers have built their empires by focusing on the pipes that ferry voice and data traffic around their networks. But future revenue growth depends on the ability to deliver next-generation services like cloud computing, which has turned attention to the telecom data center.
Legacy data center multi-tier switching designs are likely to hamper cloud computing traffic loads and distribution, making flatter next-generation data center architecture an attractive option to reduce costs and improve performance.
Peer 1 Hosting, a Vancouver-based hosting and colocation provider, has embarked on a "radical" data center transformation, according to Jag Bains, director of network operations. The new architecture comes with a learning curve, Bains said, but the payoff in terms of improved performance and simplified management has been well worth the investment.
"We wanted to remove complexity," Bains said. In our access layer alone, we have 200 to 300 switches per data center, which is quite complex. It's easy to make mistakes.
"From an administrative point of view, [the next-generation data center architecture] is much, much easier. From a monitoring and maintenance point of view, it's head and shoulders above what we have in our older data center," he added.
Even traditional telcos are becoming aggressive about shedding their transport-only reputations and edging into the cloud computing market to compete alongside cloud providers like Amazon and Google, according to telecom consultant Tom Nolle, president of CIMI Corp.
But that bullishness also comes with the recognition that their data center architectures need an overhaul, he said.
"All of them are getting very, very hot on data center architectures. That's actually a much bigger issue this year for service providers than network architecture," Nolle said. "There's no reason for them not to take advantage of a very flat [next-generation data center] architecture, because they're eventually going to need it."