ANTONY SAVVAS DATACENTRE CONNECTIVITY
connectivity in the hyperscale space. This volume increase is required to support the distributed compute model employed by hyperscale players, where east-west trac in the datacentre is now four times that of north-south trac.” He says, “Based on a flatter switching hierarchy, the distributed compute model reduces network latency whilst supporting an increase in data processing capability, which is desirable for organisations whose ‘factory floor’ is the datacentre. As demand for data continues the volume of fibre being deployed is increasing. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the conduits and pathways installed to route the cabling into, and across, the datacentre halls and cabinets.” These elements of the building infrastructure are typically designed and installed during the construction phase, and cannot be expanded easily. As an answer to that problem, says O’Connell, we are seeing an increased adoption of rollable ribbon cable technology, which provides a substantially higher fibre density while maintaining a smaller cable diameter. The net result is that a hyperscale operator can achieve higher fibre densities through their ducting, which hasn’t gone unnoticed by cloud, colocation and enterprise datacentre owners either, who are facing similar challenges, adds O’Connell. AT THE EDGE At the edge, an ecosystem is developing involving a growing number of providers to support the data connectivity needs of organisations. NVIDIA recently announced its NVIDIA EGX platform that enables companies to support low-latency artificial intelligence applications at the edge, to perceive, understand and act in real time on continuous streaming data between 5G base stations, datacentres, warehouses, retail stores, factories and other data collection points. NVIDIA EGX addresses the growing demand to perform instantaneous, high-throughput AI at the edge - where data is created - with guaranteed response times. This reduces the amount of data that must be sent to the cloud for processing, thereby reducing delays and latency. “Enterprises are demanding more powerful computing at the edge to process their oceans of raw data streaming in from countless interactions with customers and facilities - to make rapid, AI-enhanced decisions that can drive their business,” says Bob Pette, vice NVIDIA. “A scalable platform like NVIDIA EGX allows them to easily deploy systems to meet their needs on premises, in the cloud or both.” EGX combines Mellanox Technologies and Cisco security networking and storage technologies to allow organisations to quickly set up enterprise president and general manager of enterprise and edge computing at
Enterprises are demanding more powerful computing at the edge to process their oceans of raw data streaming in from countless interactions with customers and facilities
grade AI-processing infrastructures. Michael Kagan, chief technology ocer at Mellanox Technologies, says, “The combination of high-performance, low-latency and accelerated networking provides a new infrastructure tier of computing that is critical to eciently access and supply the data needed to fuel the next generation of advanced AI solutions on edge platforms such as NVIDIA EGX.” KINETIC EDGE ALLIANCE Another important development in connectivity at the edge is the Kinetic Edge Alliance. The Alliance is an ecosystem of industry players that plan to share the blueprints necessary to deploy edge networks in various scenarios. It is calling for other companies to join it to have a better chance of success in the new edge world. Mark Thiele, director of engineering for edge compute at Ericsson – a Kinetic Edge Alliance member - says, “Edge is an opportunity to work with people you wouldn’t normally be able to work with, including rivals, as the edge opportunity is so big and floats so many boats, there are plenty for everyone to climb into.” He adds, “In 1992, when the first internet was around we were messing around with Mosaic, lists and IP addresses not knowing what it would turn into. By 1995, grandma was using it, but most of us weren’t. Amazon’s Je Bezos who knew how to make money out of it. This is the next big opportunity though, and we have to work together to build a network that can take advantage of it.” Eddie Kilbane, CEO and co- founder of datacentre firm DataPlex Group, says, “The new edge networks will be built by new companies, not the telco incumbents as their existing networks are too old and cumbersome to build onto. The banks realise this and are ready to lend to make it happen.” OCP The Open Compute Project (OCP), designed to deliver open source datacentre architecture templates to enable easier and cheaper infrastructure deployments that are energy ecient, is gaining traction too. The OCP is
backed by the likes of Facebook, Intel, Microsoft and Rackspace. CommScope’s O’Connell says, “The OCP has resulted in massive improvements in datacentre design, reducing complexity, increasing density and improving power and compute eciency. “On the connectivity side, the project has resulted in the move from multi- mode to single-mode fibre. Today almost all fibre in a hyperscale datacentre is single mode.” Circle B and Rittal have moved the first European Open Compute Project (OCP) Experience Centre to the Maincubes AMS01 datacentre in Amsterdam. The OCP Experience Centre was initially located at Switch Datacentres’ AMS1 facility in Amsterdam, but that site was recently sold to Equinix. Circle B was one of the first European channel partners to acquire the status of OCP Solution Provider. Solution Providers are a special group of companies within the OCP ecosystem. They develop, test, deliver and support ready-made systems and environments based on OCP designs. Rittal is a manufacturer of infrastructure solutions for datacentres. As part of its product portfolio it designs, manufactures and sells racks and cooling solutions that are based on OCP designs. The fully-functional OCP environment at Maincubes’ AMS01 facility will take advantage of its very close location to Amsterdam Schiphol International Airport. “We see great potential for both Dutch and international OCP inspired projects,” says Joris te Lintelo, vice president of Maincubes. “Our location is ideally located for Dutch visitors as well as datacentre owners and managers from abroad, and we would like to invite them to come and meet us.” The OCP Experience Centre is available as a demo centre, but can also be used for testing new “OCP Accepted” and “OCP Inspired” datacentre environments and telco solutions. All these developments show that while the datacentre connectivity arena is rapidly changing, the industry seems to be in a good place in terms of addressing the needs of the data processing market.
| ISSUE 14 | Q3 2018
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