When first hearing the word 'fabric' one generally visualizes a single piece of cloth comprised of thousands of threads weaved together. When we use the term fabric in relation to data centers
, it is meant as a metaphor for all of the connections made between the primary data center components
. These primary components are computing, networking and software. If you were to map all of the connections on paper, there would be so many that it would create, essentially, a tightly woven fabric of connecting lines.
Image Courtesy: Liz Henry, Flickr
The most important thing to consider when planning your data center fabric is to make it rapidly scalable. The layout is determined by the mapping of connections between switches and servers and how they are connected and communicate through networking hardware and software is what makes up the fabric.
Why Data Center Fabric Needs to be Scalable
Some organizations grow much more quickly than others. But, not preparing your data center for any amount of growth is problematic. The main issues people find with their data center architecture are:
- Total number of connections
- How quickly traffic over the network flows
- Efficiently connecting to all elements of the data center
To prevent such issues, it's imperative that from the outset of your planning it is understood how your applications will be interacting with one another, how much data they'll be passing back and forth and if there are any discernible patterns to those transactions. This will help you to head off any potential oversights before it's too late.
Benefits of Data Center Fabric
Data center fabric is a more simplistic network in comparison to networks of the past. Traditionally, network signals go between the client and the server and back again. A fabric enabled data center can move horizontally, meaning that it can move from server to server and are flatter having, typically, a max of two tiers as opposed to the data centers of the past which generally three or more.
The data center fabric technology works better within a virtual environment. With many companies moving to a virtualized model, they can get the most out of their network by implementing a fabric plan. The mobility you gain from virtualizing your data center requires a nimble network and data center fabric can offer that.
Remember, data center fabric projects require careful planning. Do your homework and find out which solutions will best fit your data center needs.