Data Centers Growing Faster than their Networks

The explosion of data processing in the data center industry has been supported by infrastructure upgrades and innovations, especially virtualization and cloud computing. However, the same innovative spirit has not been passed on to data center networks, and they are beginning to fall behind.

Speaking at the recent Interop 2011 conference, Alex Gray, senior vice president and general manager of the campus and branch networking division at Juniper, said virtual server infrastructure has expanded faster than the physical server deployment, creating denser server rack environments.

Because data centers use a layer or tree-like network system, data sent between servers and end-users needs to hop from one layer to another to get them. The advent of virtualization has been so powerful, Gray said, that too many network layers are needed, and data must hop so many times that it degrades and experiences significant latency.

To resolve this issue, many data center managers are turning to virtual appliances. According to a recent TechTarget report, a virtual appliance is any network equipment that has been virtualized. Virtualizing network hardware allows the network to support virtual server infrastructure better, the report said.