Building Virtualization-Optimized Data Center Networks

Executive Summary

Server virtualization initiatives are reshaping data center traffic flows, increasing bandwidth densities at the server edge and pushing conventional data center networks to the brink. Hierarchical data center networks designed to support traditional client-server software deployment models can’t meet the performance and scalability requirements of the new virtualized data center. Enterprises must implement flatter, simpler networks to support high-volume server-to-server traffic flows, and they must adopt new management systems and security practices to administer virtual resources and enable on-demand services. HP networking solutions let enterprises build flatter and more efficient data center networks with fewer layers, less equipment and cabling, and greater port densities to address the escalating performance and scalability demands of the virtualized data center, along with advanced security and management capabilities to unify security and administration across virtualized and physical resources.

This white paper reviews the impact of server virtualization on the data center and describes HP’s approach to building simpler, more secure and automated networks that fully meet the stringent performance, availability and agility demands of the new virtualized data center.

Contemporary Data Center Networks

Most contemporary data center networks are based on three-tier architectures designed to support conventional “north-south” client-server traffic flows in and out of the data center. A typical three-tier data center network is comprised of an access tier, an aggregation tier and a core tier (figure 1). The access tier is made up of cost-effective Ethernet switches connecting rack servers and IP-based storage devices (typically 100Mbps or 1GbE connections). The access switches are connected via Ethernet to a set of aggregation switches (typically 10GbE connections) which in turn are connected to a layer of core switches or routers that forward traffic to an intranet, the Internet and between aggregation switches. Layer 2 VLANs are typically implemented across the access and aggregation tiers, and Layer 3 routing is implemented in the core. Bandwidth is typically over-provisioned in the access tier, and to a lesser extent in the aggregation tier.

Download Full Whitepaper: Building Virtualization-Optimized Data Center Networks