The three truths about virtualization and cabling

July 30, 2010
Virtualized data centers' network architectures are changing cabling topologies and requirements.

A white paper co-authored by Fluke Networks and Broadcom Corporation explain the effects that virtualization will have on cable and connectivity. Fluke Networks' David Veneski and Broadcom's Abhijit Aswath collaborated to write the paper entitled "Connectivity in the Virtualized Datacenter: How to Ensure Next-Generation Services." In it they describe how and why virtualization is changing data center design, which in turn is driving necessary change in cabling topologies.

The paper describes the pre-virtualized data center as one in which "each asset (server, storage device, etc.) is individually linked to an Ethernet switch. This topology uses structured cable connections that are difficult to modify. Since virtualization facilitates change, a network architecture that inhibits it is inherently problematic. This conventional topology is also dated, as a large number of 1-Gigabit links is incongruent with consolidated servers that need fewer, faster connections. This shift from many 'thin roots' to fewer 'thick roots' must be supported by the network."

It then explains end-of-row and top-of-rack topologies and their tiered physical connections. In that portion of the paper, the authors explain that regardless of the topology chosen for a virtualized data center, three truths about cabling will hold.

  1. Cabling will change
  2. Cabling will outlive many computing, storage and networking assets
  3. Failures of data center network cabling can impact even virtualized services.

The authors list in table format and in more-descriptive text the cable types that can be used, to what distances and in what configurations, in a virtualized environment. It also discusses the emergence of 10GBase-T as a protocol that can support virtualized networks and the certification steps required to ensure a cabling system - whether it is copper or optical - is up to the task.

Anyone can register and download the white paper from Fluke Networks.

Download the white paper here.

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