Typical data centers support up to three separate network types based on the applications and functionality they provide. Ethernet based network, the most popular, handles IP and LAN based traffic. Fibre based networks are used for delivering lossless based traffic commonly used in Storage Area Networks (SAN). In some cases where high performance computing is utilized, data centers use InfiniBand (a technology utilized to interconnect server I/O subsystems to increase performance above PCI bandwidth speeds) for interprocess communication between servers.
These three network types are operated independently of each other in data centers due to requirements in host applications where data ...view middle of the document...
However, with the implementations of iSCSI and InfiniBand, their shortcomings directly fall in their inability to provide simple interfaces to support multiple traffic types without specialized hardware or special hardware processing to implement gateways to bridge TCP/IP traffic (Jiang, 2008). The ideal solution for consolidation leverages existing networking equipment in a manner that is simple to implement, easy to understand, and provide an easy foundation to manage each traffic type in a consolidated environment (DeSanti, 2008). The most promising methodology, called Fibre Core over Ethernet, leverages the Ethernet protocol to provide the ability to utilize existing network infrastructures (based on Ethernet) to perform data consolidation.
Ethernet is a known as a lossy protocol due to its methods used to handle packet errors, re-transmissions, and by nature has a higher latency than other network types. This is precisely why Fibre based networks are primarily used for low latency lossless transmission of Storage Area Network (SAN) network traffic – though a more costly implementation.
Ethernet is the predominant network type found in all data centers. As such, businesses have made significant investments in hardware and cabling to support Ethernet based frameworks (Jiang, 2008). Therefore it makes sense in order to make data consolidation more of a reality, improvements to Ethernet protocols is necessary to improve its performance and accuracy to enhance it to make it as lossless as traditional Fibre based communications.
Over the years, Ethernet has been enhanced to provide the building blocks to make network consolidation a possibility. With the advent of high speed Ethernet (reaching 10Gbps bandwidth speeds), this provides the capability of Ethernet to reach transmission speeds to address the minimum latency requirements native to Fibre based networks. However, improved bandwidth speed alone is not enough to perform consolidation.
Ethernet by nature is a lossy protocol for transmitting data. Ethernet over LANs will lose data frames due to data collisions and transmission errors (DeSanti, 2008). In data centers Ethernet is typically deployed in full duplex mode to limit the number of collisions in network traffic (DeSanti, 2008). As a result Ethernet transmission errors within the data center network are relatively rare. Then, the remaining issue to be addressed to make consolidation possible is the issues involved with network traffic congestion. Traffic congestion, a network switching issue, can be remedied with extensions to Ethernet protocols (DeSanti, 2008).
One improvement for Ethernet to reach near lossless performance is through the implementation of Pause-based flow control (DeSanti, 2008). As previously mentioned, Ethernet ports in data centers are configured to be full duplex links. At the receiving end of the link there is a messaging buffer used to store and read data sent by the sending link. When the receiver...