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Data Center 10GBASE-T Switch Deployment Architectures

Updated on January 18, 2022
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The need for 10 Gigabit Ethernet spans all markets and business types. And 10G switches, especially 10GBASE-T switches, win broad deployment in data centers due to its great design flexibility, infrastructure simplification, and other advantages. This post will have an introduction to the 10GBASE-T switch: why to use it and how to deploy it.

10g switch

Why Use 10GBASE-T Switch in Data Centers

With 10GBASE-T support, 10GBASE-T switch enables a standard RJ45 Ethernet jack, which allows connections with existing Ethernet cables. And as 10GBASE-T is backward compatible with 1000BASE-T, the 10GBASE-T switch will be able to auto-negotiate/select and communicate effectively with legacy Gbit/s and 100Mbit/s server connections that are cabled with Cat6 or Cat6a. The existing copper Ethernet cables can be used to deliver network performance increase to 10GbE while minimizing network changes (Cat6 up to 45 meters, Cat6a up to 100 meters).

Besides, for any fiber-based systems that cannot support lower speeds, wholesale rip and replace server upgrades may be required in addition to 10G switch upgrades. In this case, 10GBASE-T switch can also help IT keep costs down while offering easy migration to 10GbE.

Compared to other 10G connections, such as fiber networks, 10GBASE-T switch offers IT managers a far greater level of flexibility in connecting devices in the data center and accommodating top of rack, middle of row and end of row network topologies. In addition, the 10GBASE-T switch works with existing structured cabling systems, providing IT managers the most flexibility in server placement.

The below form shows the comparison of network design flexibility using 10GBASE-T switches and other 10G alternatives.


10G Technology Network Architecture Connectivity
SFP+ Fiber Top of Rack (ToR) Uplinks from ToR switches to aggregation layer switches
Middle of Row (MoR) Inter-cabinet connectivity from servers to MoR switches
End of Row (EoR) Inter-cabinet connectivity from servers to EoR switches
Core network Backbone
IDA/HDA/MDA Intermediate, Horizontal and Main distribution areas as outlined in TIA 942-A
MD/ZD/EO Main Distributor, zone distributor and Equipment Outlets as outlined in ISO 24764
SFP+ DAC Top of Rack Intra-cabinet connectivity from servers to ToR switches
10GBASE-T Top of Rack (ToR) Uplinks from ToR switches to aggregation layer switches; Intra-cabinet connectivity from servers to ToR switches
Middle of Row (MoR) Intra-cabinet connectivity from servers to MoR switches
End of Row (EoR) Inter-cabinet connectivity from servers to EoR switches
IDA/HDA/MDA Intermediate, Horizontal and Main distribution areas as outlined in TIA 942-A
MD/ZD/EO Main Distributor, zone distributor and Equipment Outlets as outlined in ISO 24764

In simple words, 10GBASE-T switch provides more flexibility at lowest costs and is backward compatible with existing Gigabit Ethernet networks.

Data Center 10GBASE-T Switch Deployment Architectures

As listed in the form above, 10GBASE-T switch can be deployed in various architectures in data centers, such as ToR, EoR, etc. Here will mainly introduce ToR and EoR architecture deployments. Each of them has distinct benefits and constraints, therefore which to implement is typically based on the preferences of data center manager, the existing facilities, equipment layout, and the applications being run. Here takes FS 48-port 10GBASE-T switch as an example to show the deployments.

ToR (Top of Rack)

In the ToR architecture, residing at the top of each server rack, FS 48-port 10GBASE-T switch with 4 QSFP+ uplinks provide the flexibility of connecting existing 1000BASE-T or older switches and servers to newer 10GbE equipment using cat6a patch cords. Generally, 10GBASE-T switch is well suited to ToR architecture in the following situations:

  • New data center without any existing cabling or equipment

  • Need for scalability and ease of adding cabinets

  • Ease of migration from 10G networking toward 40G

  • High-density layouts using large numbers of servers per cabinet

  • Reduced cable congestion

  • Modular, pre-configured cabinets

10gbase-t switch

Figure 1: 48-port 10GBASE-T switch with ToR architecture


EoR (End of Row)

Standard structured cabling practices are used in the EoR to provide efficient cable organization, allowing the user to take optimal advantage of 10GBASE-T switch. Cat6a cables can be used for the vast majority of connections between switches, fabric extenders, and servers, due to the 100-meter reach and backward compatibility of 10GBASE-T switch. The utilization of RJ45 copper patch panels can simplify management and changes to the environment while helping to reduce the potential for airflow blockage. Typically, 10GBASE-T switch is well suited to EoR architecture in the following situations:

  • Existing EoR networks with 10GBASE-T cabling—currently the most common layout

  • Compatibility with existing GbE or slower networks

  • Potential for frequent network changes, which are easier to do with structured cabling

  • Centralized security and network management

  • Sensitivity to downtime and strong value on redundancy

  • Optimized port utilization

10gbase-t switch

Figure 2: 48-port 10GBASE-T switch with EoR architecture

Summary

10GBASE-T switch, which can be used for a variety of network architectures, is well suited for widespread use in today’s networks. With the advantages of high flexibility for new data centers and the easiest upgrade path for existing ones, 10GBASE-T switch simplifies network infrastructure, and can meet the demands of virtualized and ever-flattening networks. The combination of reliability, flexibility, backward compatibility, cost-effectiveness, ease of use, and 100-meter reach makes 10GBASE-T switch an ideal choice for next-generation networks.

Related article:

10G Ethernet Cabling Solutions | FS Community

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