As use of cloud and Internet technology grows with more people, devices and applications coming online, the data centers that host and power the key applications consumers, businesses and governments alike have come to depend on must continue to evolve.
Looking at the global networking traffic component alone from the Cisco Visual Networking Index, we see 22% CAGR from 2015 to 2020, with 2015 at 72 Etabytes (1 Etabyte = 1000 Petabytes) and 2016 at 88 Etabytes (EB) of network traffic, growing to almost 200 EB by 2020. This traffic is what travels over wide-area networks (WAN), mobile networks and backbone connections, and does not reflect the bulk of network traffic inside data centers. While a portion of that traffic will be peer-to-peer, a significant portion will find their way into the North-South (N-S) data paths in data centers. If we examine today’s modern applications, an increasing amount are data-driven and require more complex processing than past applications (all that “Hey Siri, Ok Google, Alexa” requires significant processing in the cloud). As a result, the East-West (E-W) traffic created in response to processing these incoming requests will be multiples of the N-S network utilization. Cisco indicates that enterprises are moving from an 80/20 mix of N-S/E-W traffic to a 20/80 mix with 5 times more E-W traffic than that between the servers and the requesting devices (desktop, mobile, IoT device etc).
Modern data centers today are built based on evolving cloud architectures developed by web titans like Google, FaceBook, Microsoft, and Amazon. In conversations with both enterprises and communication service providers, it’s clear that many of them are mimicking scaled-down versions or subsets of what the web titans developed.
To understand why enterprises and communication service providers are trying to evolve their data centers, let’s take a look at some of the key business drivers:
Increased Competitiveness Driving Agility, Cost-savings, Differentiation in IT