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CloudDCI: A Cloud Network between Data Centers

By He Hanlin, Marketing Manager, Enterprise Network Router Domain, Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd.

Enterprises are moving towards cloud-based solutions in their digital transformation endeavors. In the near future, it is expected that over 80 percent of businesses will be deployed on the cloud, and cloud data centers are becoming the focal point for network traffic. The skyrocketing growth of 4K video, Virtual Reality (VR), and other bandwidth-intensive Internet applications continues to generate increasing amounts of traffic, which imposes tremendous challenges for the networks between data centers. Additionally, the digital transformation across all industries is further accelerating the need to upgrade traditional enterprise data centers to cloud solutions.

Due to these and other obvious issues, including the high cost of traditional leased lines and slow response times, enterprises have begun to build and sometimes operate their own Data Center Interconnect (DCI) networks. The changing network traffic models for large Internet operators have caused east-west traffic to soar, and the port speeds of data center servers to increase by three times within just five years.

Collectively, the conditions in the marketplace indicate the inevitability that DCI networks will be rearchitected.

Data Center Connectivity

The Huawei CloudDCI solution is designed to help customers build high-speed, energy-saving cloud DCI networks that create the foundation for long-term expansion of enterprise cloud services. In addition to accelerating service provisioning and making networks dynamically controllable, adopting the CloudDCI solution with 400G fast interconnections reduces both Capital Expenditures (CAPEX) and Operating Expenses (OPEX). Industry-leading energy efficiency — with power consumption as low as 0.4 Watts per gram (W/g) — and best-in-class hardware integration meet the latest physical requirements for data center equipment rooms. The innovative CloudDCI devices have been built to work with the Huawei Agile Controller to provide customers with all-cloud DCI networks capable of Software-Defined Networking (SDN) to achieve non-blocking data migration and interconnection.

Traditional Internet Data Centers (IDCs) face network challenges when transitioning to cloud data centers. Cloud data centers have changed the requirements for network latency and bandwidth. Servers are now typically counted in 10,000 unit blocks, storage requirements are routinely calculated in exabytes, and traffic volumes have tripled in size over the last five years. In other words, cloud services have radically changed both the computing and traffic models of IDCs. Traditional north-south traffic flows through data centers have given way to increasing east-west flows between cloud data centers. In response to this trend, DCI networks are using non-blocking and low latency techniques to handle the increased volume of east-west traffic. Bandwidth availability is the top consideration for DCI network design and construction.

The growth of enterprise network traffic goes hand-in-hand with the need to process orders of magnitude more data, which in turn has necessitated building larger, distributed cloud data centers. Increasing numbers of optical fiber connections and new patterns of peak network traffic require wider network pipes for traffic buffering.

One example is a supermarket chain that is operating more than ten data centers nationally, and where the greatest distance between two data centers is over 1,000 kilometers. The connectivity between these data centers must be high-speed and highly reliable. Huawei proposed its future-proof CloudDCI solution to implement a 400G DCI interconnect that eliminated legacy bandwidth bottlenecks and reduced the number of optical fiber pairs (from 10,000) by 50 percent. The CloudDCI solution is capable of lossless transmission at up to 2,000 km and has been designed to support incremental bandwidth growth for the next four to ten years. Together, these benefits serve to protect the customer’s investment for years to come.

Intelligent, Flat DCI Network

Large enterprises usually have multiple branch offices that are spread geographically, and often these branches will have their own data centers. Transaction-rich services such as large-scale gaming and stock trading across data centers are especially sensitive to bandwidth restrictions and latency delays. In the case of the finance industry, reducing latency by even one-millisecond has the potential to increase revenue by USD 100 million. Other low latency services (< 10 milliseconds) include synchronous processing across data centers, live Virtual Machine (VM) migration, backups, and Disaster Recovery (DR).

Proactive measures to lower DCI network latencies include building flat, full-mesh, single-hop architectures and physically isolating system services using hard pipes. A flat network design permits Layer 3 signaling to the edges.

Traffic between data centers occurs in irregular bursts, for example, the Single’s Day online shopping spree on November 11 in China every year. Random migrations between cloud data centers can also easily cause traffic uncertainties. The result in both cases is unbalanced network traffic: Some links become congested, and link utilization averages are not high. Traditional traffic engineering approaches do not solve the problems of sudden congestion because they are usually based upon old traffic predictions that do not map to the current situation. The goal of traffic optimization technologies is to monitor network-wide traffic patterns and allocate bandwidth resources in real-time to load balance the links. For instance, by increasing the bandwidth utilization rate from 25 to 50 percent, the optimization technology will adjust multiple factors that effect latency to improve the user experience.

The Huawei Agile Controller is used to manage the entire DCI network. On-demand service provisioning and cloud-based network migration are achieved in order to respond flexibly to fast changing DCI services. Using the Agile Controller, the provisioning cycle for end-to-end services is accelerated from approximately one month to as few as thirty minutes. Additionally, a rich variety of northbound interfaces (such as CLI, SNMP, NETCONF, and YANG) allow enterprises to quickly integrate the Huawei DCI solution with their IT systems.

Security and Energy Savings

For enterprise cloud infrastructures, security is always a crucial topic. No matter if an enterprise has built its own private cloud or adopted a public cloud, the IT leadership will be concerned whether the cloud DCI networks are less secure than traditional DCI networks. Issues related to security include unified applications, data isolation, and application authorization. By using techniques such as encrypted transmission, Storage-Area Network (SAN) authentication, multi-dimensional anti-attack protection, complex authorization, and dedicated physical hard pipes, Huawei’s CloudDCI solution provides industrial-grade, strong encryption for data protection.

Cloud data computing platforms located between manufacturing plants and warehouses also need substantial computing and storage resources that occupy great amounts of floor space and tend to require sizeable energy budgets. Enterprises, Internet companies, and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) all require their data center platforms to be high density and highly efficient, with large resource capacities and low costs.

The Tianjin Data Center for Chinese Internet giant Tencent is built to house approximately 200,000 servers with a Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) specification as low as 1.29. Aliyun, the cloud division of Chinese eCommerce giant Alibaba has commissioned a new data center at Qiandao Lake in the Zhejiang Province of eastern China. The data center is cooled with water piped directly from the lake, which saves tens of millions of kilowatt hours of energy annually. The Facebook Lulea data center in northern Sweden is just dozens of miles south of the Arctic Circle and was put together with the expectation of low operating costs and energy-rich resources in anticipation of easy and convenient capacity expansion.

The Huawei CloudDCI solution is a best-in-class, integrated hardware platform with an energy efficiency specification that — as low as 0.4 W/g — is half the industry average. With the adoption of patented technologies such as floating radiators and carbon nanotube thermal pads, the CloudDCI solution delivers improved heat dissipation of large-capacity line cards and lower power consumption. The result is a dramatic reduction of customer operating costs. CloudDCI is a 400G Wave-Division Multiplexing (WDM) platform that includes high-density 4T router line cards that save nearly 50 percent of valuable customer floorspace.

An old Chinese proverb says: “If you want to get rich, build a road.” Similarly, if industry players want to accelerate digital transformation, they need to build future-proof network infrastructures. As cloud computing architectures expand, the industry trend is to build smart cloud DCI networks that feature cloud-and-network synergy, large capacities, flat and intelligent meshes, resilient security, and high energy efficiency. At CeBIT 2017, Huawei and London-based euNetworks announced their collaboration to create a smart, flat Cloud DCI solution. With agile and open features, the integrated CloudDCI solution helps enterprises and service providers innovate quickly and carry out cloud transformation for optimal business potential.

As a leading global ICT solutions provider, Huawei is dedicated to customer-centric innovations and constantly explores the path forward for network development. Huawei strives to build healthy, sustainable industry ecosystems with global partners to deliver value for customers worldwide and create a better connected world for the future.

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