5 tips for data center connectivity

This article was originally posted here in DataCentre Solutions (DSC) Magazine.  Ian Harris is a System Integrators Leader for Ciena in EMEA.

1) The right tool for the job
There are many system architectures for data centre connectivity, therefore it is important to select the solution that meets your specific requirements. Which applications is your data centre going to support? How important are speed and latency to your applications? It is crucial that that the solution serves the needs of the applications rather than vice versa. The requirements of high-end active-active replication are different to asynchronous approaches and require a tailored architectural approach. One-size does not fit all.

2) Are you virtual?
The onset of virtualised infrastructures has initiated a re-think in data centre connectivity needs. The live migration to virtual machines between data centres will require significant additional capacity. Also, IP interconnection will not serve the needs of live VM migration in particular; layer 2 connectivity is more appropriate for this purpose. This means that a simple, high-capacity and reliable solution is required to support the rise of virtualisation without the vulnerabilities of traditional Ethernet and the barriers presented by IP connectivity.

3) Speed is important: keep it simple
Many data centre applications are latency sensitive, therefore a high-capacity, low-latency network is essential. Another important consideration is the location of the facilities, geographic clustering for active-active operation requires careful consideration of the latency between the partner sites. Latency can become an issue even within Metro distances if insufficient attention is given to selecting the best network architecture. Delayering the network can really help as layered protocols (and hardware) add to latency. So keep it simple.

4) Distance isn’t always a barrier
Storage replication over distance is important in many data centre strategies, in particular because Fibre Channel is a distance sensitive protocol. Alternatives to Fibre Channel are available at the IP layer, but they have their problems too. And even though the applications themselves can enable distance mitigation techniques, these tend to be an expensive approach. When it makes sense, consider using the capabilities of the transport layer to extend your reach.

5) Secure your in-flight data
Data Security is top of mind right now. There are many strategies for securing data at rest, but there is little point securing data within the data-centre if it is vulnerable whilst in-flight between facilities. Application level encryption can be costly and difficult to manage. Optical layer encryption is a cost effective solution to securing ALL data that passes between data centres.

For more information on Ciena solutions for long-distance data center connectivity, click here.

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