The Next Generation Data Centre Network – TRILL, DCB & vNetworks


If you’re arriving here without reading the previous two entries in the Next Generation Data Centre Network series, here is Part 1 and Part 2.

Several new terms and protocols have begun propagating through the tech world when it comes to enabling a next generation data centre network – a network that will be based on 10Gbps at the server, and at least 40Gbps at the core (100Gbps in some cases). Many of the data centre networking vendors are already shipping 40Gbps ports, with just a select few shipping 100Gbps now.

Network virtualization is not only enabled within network switches. This is a larger play that has everything to do with your chosen hypervisor and virtual machine management software. In the network, your switches must be capable of automatically migrating virtual port profiles, building VLANs that span across data centres and geographies, lower latency, faster re-composition after route loss, etc. I’ve previously written about virtual networks (which I termed vNetworks at the time) when working for Info-Tech Research Group, here and here. However I can recap the major points here.

TRILL and DCB, on the other hand, are protocols designed to help improve the performance of the network.

I was initially going to expound on the benefits of TRILL and DCB, but I think there’s already plenty of information on the web available about that. Instead, I want to re-emphasize that data centre networking is finally changing. Soon you’ll be rid of spanning tree, and all of the associated headaches it brings in large environments.

So that about covers it! Different vendors may support each protocol differently, so be sure to perform your due diligence in the acquisition process. But really, there is no better time than the present to start evaluating vendors other than your incumbent. With companies like Extreme Networks, Arista, and Force 10 (now part of Dell) making such a splash over the last few years, your options are really wide open. Keep an open mind, and keep things like ease of administration, security features, and future proofing in the back of your mind.

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