In the new connection era, technologies like cloud computing, large data, networking and artificial intelligence are booming. The data center construction and operation are also faced with continuous challenges. In the coming days, data center networks have to supply ever-increasing speed and scale for interconnection, both between data centers and within individual data centers. As the key drivers, IoT (Internet of things), 5G and NFV (Network Function Virtualization) will push that demands even further. Are there challenges or blessedness for the data center?
The new 5G technology is the upcoming evolution of wireless 4G LTE. It is able to provide ultra high-speed, ultra high-capacity wireless transmission for more users, which mean more fiber cables will be deployed. Though 5G will enable new applications like autonomous driving and tactile applications, it also brings a lot of challenges to data center networks at the same time. And one of the biggest challenges is that the data centers need to cater for a wide range of services and their requirements. To realize this, the flexibility of data center architecture must be improved.
With the gained popularity of IoT, billions of handheld devices and numerous connections from sensors, smart grids, smart homes, connected cars will be added to it, which greatly increase the data traffic. According to statistics from Cisco global cloud index, the global data traffic will grow to 10.4 zettabytes in 2019 which increase one time compared to that in 2016. All these will force data center operators dramatically scale their data center networking infrastructure in a quick and cost-effective way.
The rapid development of both services requires data centers to change largely. On the physical level, more quality fiber cables will be installed for high-density connections, for many existing interfaces are no longer sufficient to support bandwidth demands of data centers. Beyond the physical layer, the high demands on data center networks also mean that more challenges will arise. For example, test automation and sophisticated analytics are required for end-to-end verification and service assurance in a new environment of complex NFV and emerging 5G requirements. Meanwhile, latency as low as one millisecond has been discussed for 5G, which is unlikely to be supported with existing fibers between end users and data centers. All these have demanding requirements for data center infrastructure.
At present, some telecom operators are beginning to use NFV to satisfy the services-increasing demands in 5G networks. Using NFV, operators can virtualize devices and services standard IT server platforms, and managed using IT automation systems, which can make their architectures cost efficient and flexible.
Additionally, to deal with the growing data traffic, some forward-thinking data center operators begin to adopt leaf-spine architectures to support high levels of East-West data center traffic. While more efficient than three-tier architectures, the leaf-spine increases more connections that needed to be tested and managed. For instance, servers need to be connected to top-of-rack (ToR) switches via copper cable, the ToR and leaf-spine switches connected via single-mode fiber. So test equipment used must be capable of ensuring clean, fault-free connections and support testing of dense, high-bandwidth data center infrastructure with fast and easy test processes that can speed up installation.
Furthermore, on the road from 10G to 100G, even to 200G and 400G, these optical links have higher requirements for loss budget and reflectance. And one important issue to consider is that some vendors have put price pressure on some components like fiber optical transceivers. This may affect the products’ quality in the market. Cooperated with several material suppliers, FS has the ability to provide enough optical transceivers and other optical components for customers’ needs.
The move toward high-speed, high-efficiency services will not come without challenges. But they can be solved with the technology advanced. To fully benefit from the opportunities of 5G, IoT and NFV, the quality and quantity of components in data center infrastructure are the key factors.