Modern Datacenters Require All-Ethernet with Automation Across the Board


Overview: Datacenter Network Situation

Worldwide, new datacenter build will increase 7.8% YoY between 2022 and 2026. As a result, installed capacity will grow 11.4% and will reach 2,355 million square meters in 20261 ). Datacenter build will accelerate as demand for digital services accelerates and as datacenters are vital to the world economy. But datacenters will face new challenges with skyrocketing data growth: generated data will more than double in size between 2022 and 2026. In addition, datacenters need to deliver low latency and almost deterministic performances to support critical applications. They are becoming more and more computing-centric, but at the same time traditional datacenter infrastructure is too fragmented with many silos. Indeed, in general, three different domains coexist in datacenters: general purpose computing, data storage, and High-Performance Computing (HPC). For each of them, enterprises used different networking technologies: Ethernet for general purpose computing, Fiber Channel for storage area networks, and InfiniBand for HPC.

Datacenter Network Convergence: Toward All-Ethernet

Ethernet continues its bandwidth journey: in 2022, 200 Gb and 400 Gb represented 10.8% of the market and in 2026 they will grow to 40.9% of the market. The largest companies have already jumped to 800 Gb and 1.6 Tb is on the horizon. But more importantly, over recent years, Ethernet made significant progress both in latency and losslessness with NonVolatile Memory Express over Fabrics (NVMe-oF) technologies and control mechanisms to overcome congestion and buffer overflow issues. NVMe-oF encompasses a variety of fabric and protocol options and supports low latency between servers and networked storage. In addition, it provides increased bandwidth and higher IOPs. Due to these evolutions, Ethernet can address the stringent needs of storage area networks and HPC. Ethernet is now perceived as a multipurpose networking technology, and an increasing number of companies are moving to all-Ethernet hyperconverged networks. The process started in hyperscaler datacenters and is now expanding to enterprise datacenters. An increasing proportion of enterprises use hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI): in Europe 20% of enterprises have an extensive use and 36% a limited use. They clearly see multiple benefits: integrated automation and orchestration, multicloud enablement, and scalability based on standardized building blocks. Today, HCI represents only a small portion of Ethernet deployment, but it is growing very fast. On a global basis, IDC forecasts that worldwide Ethernet switches spending will grow at a 5.8% CAGR between 2022 and 2026 to reach $19.9 billion. At the same time, Fiber Channel will decrease 5.9% YoY to $1.2 billion in 2026, representing only 6% of the Ethernet market. Indeed, Fibre Channel causes a bottleneck with insufficient bandwidth and All-Ethernet is unifying networking silos.

Datacenter Network Automation is Mandatory

1 Source: Worldwide and U.S. Datacenter Installation Census and Construction Forecast, 2022–2026 In the 5G era, new use cases are emerging with video traffic, IoT/OT applications with deep implications for enterprise business and user experience. Datacenters must deliver competitive advantages and continuous innovation with improved agility and security. In addition, more than 80% of enterprises have embraced a multicloud strategy because no single cloud can address the entire set of requirements of each enterprise and because enterprises need flexibility and scalability without any vendor lock-in.

As enterprises execute their multicloud strategy, they find that multicloud network modernization is highly challenging. They are facing operational burden managing discrete and disconnected cloud APIs and network specific automation tools. Many enterprises don't have the required skills and IT teams. In addition, defining and managing consistent business policies across multiple cloud datacenters is highly complex. They are facing operational burdens managing discrete and disconnected cloud APIs and network specific automation tools. To overcome this challenge, enterprises require a unified automated platform across multiple clouds, enabling fast troubleshooting and remediation, and abstractions with intent-based networking that simplify operations end-to-end from day 0 to day 2.

Datacenter network automation is a game changer that improves agility, productivity and innovation while decreasing costs. But at the same time, security and compliance are mandatory. With automation, CI/CD pipelines and agile methodologies, developers can easily accelerate development cycles with new solutions and releases every week or less. Before moving to production and deployment, the network must be proactively tested with AI/ML and simulation techniques. Which network resources are available and which should I provision and deprovision? What is the impact of security and compliance policies? Are there any conflicts with other processes? What are network performances and user experience levels? Additionally, with the growing number of devices and networking projects, day 2 operations become increasingly complex and fault-correction is time consuming. Datacenter network automation systems must apply proactive management to detect anomalies and root causes and define recovery plans in a few minutes.

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