Traditional network equipment has been unable to cope with the huge data traffic
A morning in 2011, an engineer of the world’s most popular social network Facebook press a button, and the results of the company’s entire business to a standstill. This unknow the engineer who was not supposed to make mistakes. He was just trying to run the social networking giant has been in the running of a software task. He is running a distributed data analysis platform Hadoop. Results, Facebook began to analyze the data generated by the hundreds of millions of uers. These data are stored in the tens of thousands of servers on the companys’s multiple data centers. When you analyze these data, all those servers must begin to talk to each other.
It is said that Facebook employees Dorn Lee mermories of the accident on the meeting in the spring of last year, a Hadoop task let the company’s computer network was overwhelmed, and lead to other business is almost at a standstill. “I clearly remember that morning.” Lee said, “It to let Facebook paralyzed, very serious paralysis.”
In the past, the majority of network data traffic is transmitted back and forth between the server and Internet users trying to access the web. But now, with the increasingly large and complex business such as Facebook, Google and Amazon appear within the data center and server data traffic increased, these traditional network equipment used networking giant has been unable to handle so much traffic.
Therefore, the network is taking place in the times change. Companies such as Facebook and Google is building more high-speed network hardware, they are revising their network topology, to accommodate the large flow of transmission between the server. However, such improvements effect is not obvious. Like Donne – Lee this network experts have begun to consider new network equipment – available beam propagation data equipment in the data center configuration.
Electronic and optical fiber network neck and neck
Yes, certain Internet data has started in the form of light to be transmitted. This is the fiber optic network. Standard electronic signals are converted into photos, and to be transmitted along the glass fiber optic cable.
However, under normal circumstances, such data transfer typically occurs between the data center, which rarely occurs within the data center. The next step is staring fiber-optic network to re-build the data center, so that the traditional electronic network switches can greatly accelerate the speed of data transmission between the server fabric switches neck and neck.
“If we can do this, this hybrid network– can be adapted to large-scale network of more data traffic- very attractive.” God Diego campus of the University of California researcher George fiber optic network George Papen said, ” We are yet to reach this point, but we are closer than ever before.”
Papen school district where the R & D team has developed the hybrid network, the network is still in the testing phase, and demonstrate the working principle of the fiber optic switches. Their research projects, usually known as Helios, is funded by Google and other tech giants.
According to Papen, Helios project to be fully realized, there is still a long way to go. However, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, a start-up companies named Plexxi recently launched a fiber optic network switches designed to re-create the data center. Although this technology is completely different from Helios, but they have the same basic goal.
“Photonic switching function is very powerful, once your business is involved in the field of optical fiber exchange, rather than the field of electronic exchange, you will have the advantage of internal performance.” CEO David – Plexxi Company, said Husak (Dave Husak)”We are committed to achieve that effect.”
Future of the Helios project
Traditionally speaking, the network is hierarchical. If your server will be classified as a level above this level is the network switch, you need these servers are connected to the network switches. Then, you will these “high-level switch connected with higher levels of high-speed networking equipment; Next, your network equipment to connect these two levels of network equipment and a higher level. When you reach the core of the network, you run the very expensive network hardware is much faster than the switch on the server level.
You need this faster speed to adapt to all traffic from the network- this is perhaps our previous view. Amin Vahdat and colleagues show that this hierarchy is wrong. If you use the speed is generally cheaper network equipment, you may be more efficient to run your network.
“This is a revolution.” Papen said, “Before this, people like the construction of telecommunications networks to build their data center, Vahdat of the research team realized that to do so is difficult to cost savings, they proved that you can use a completely different way to build a data center. “
This unified network architecture is known as a “fat tree” architecture design. It has now become a universal form of large-scale network business. That’s why companies such as Google have begun to abandon the expensive equipment such as Cisco, switch from a manufacturing company in Asia to purchase low-cost hardware.
Helios project, the basic idea is to create a true fiber-optic network, eliminating the burden of the traditional electronic networks.
In a sense, this project will be back to the future. Today’s network uses a so-called “packet- switching to transfer data back and forth, first break them into smaller flow of information before the output data. This is the way of the operation of the Internet. However, the fiber portion of the Helios project is a “circuit-switching”, to establish a dedicated link between two endpoints. This is the old-fashioned mobile network run.
“Just look at each packet in the data center, you will find that it does not have to use your resources efficiently.” Papen said, “If you can understand, even partially understand the transmission of data traffic direction, you do not have to view each header of each packet, you will be able to create a dedicated circuit to transmit large amounts of data, rather than let it through the packet-switched network. ”
This structure is very attractive, because the fiber optic circuit-switched networks are more flexible than the traditional design. “Circuit is a pipeline, it don’t care about the data transmission speed is it, it is speed agnostic.” He said, ” you can almost any speed data transmission in the above, it is very attractive.”
While this architecture to become the reality of the data center, there is still a long way to go, but Papen believe it will eventually be realized.
Vahdat and Google is likely to be close to reality, but Papen stressed that even he doesn’t know how Google will do. “I have a lot of friends engaged in fiber in large data centers, however, i still do not know what they are prepared to do,” he said.
Google, it is the most important competitive advantage is the design of its internal architecture. Google even outside researchers funded it, do not want to disclose this design. But, Google switched fabric is not only explore the future of the company. The company doing Facebook, Cisco, IBM and now Plexxi Company.
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