Data Center Disposition: Network Architecture Choices

Data Center Disposition: Network Architecture Choices

Industry standards are an important tool for data center design. The standards created by ISO, IEEE, and TIA ensure the interoperability of equipment and give the high-level strategy for building the network you need. But the devil is in the details.

We recently added a series of pages to that not only touch on the pros and cons of the most popular data center architectures, but also go into best practices for cabling and patching in those architectures. There are both differences and similarities among the architecture choices you could make, and we assembled some installation vides, product links, white papers, webinars and technical articles specific to the architecture type to help guide you in your process:

  • Three-Tier Network — This is the most traditional data center architecture, with switching organized into three layers: access, aggregation, and core. This architecture is popular in siloed data center applications, but is conducive to higher latency and higher energy requirements compared to other options.
  • Spine-Leaf Network — Also known as "Fat Tree", Spine-Leaf is becoming the standard for greenfield data centers. Compared with a traditional three-tier architecture, Spine-Leaf uses fewer aggregation switches and redundant paths between the access and interconnection switches.
  • Switch-Fabric Network — Full mesh, interconnected mesh, centralized and virtual switch are additional examples of emerging architectures included in the published ANSI/TIA-942-B standard. Like the Spine-and-Leaf architecture, these new options provide lower latency and higher bandwidth, and they include nonblocking ports between any two points in a data center.
  • Centralized Patching Field — Two-tier architectures such as Spine-Leaf lead to an increase in top-of-rack and centralized switching topologies. These topologies result in more fiber in the Main Distribution Area (MDA), and some data centers are moving to a centralized patching field in the MDA to make network maintenance easier and free up data center space.

Cabling systems
With the emergence of new switch architectures comes a greater demand for flexibility in design, along with the need for greater scalability. And we think its important you know how choosing an 8-, 12- or 24-fiber MPO/MTP® cabling infrastructure will affect your choices in the future. The ideal goal is to install cabling design that maximizes fiber utilization throughout the infrastructure, and promotes an easy migration path to support current or future IEEE 100, 200, and 400 Gb/s networks.

It is critical to understand the impact of different architectures and standards on your data center and prepare a migration strategy for handling future tech refreshes. It is also important, when upgrading a network, to acquire assistance from experts who understand the evolution of the data center environment and fabric design architecture. Leviton works closely with many leading equipment manufacturers, is active in all next-generation standard developments, and can advise customers on their best possible migration strategy.

For full details, take a look at these data center network architectures with topology examples and recommended Leviton solutions.