How Junos Speeds Up the Data Center Network

By Walter J. Goralski, Cathy Gadecki, Michael Bushong

Beyond the steps to collapse and scale your switching network in the data center, you may also be considering how to speed the connections to your servers and converge your LAN with your storage area network (SAN) infrastructure in a single, fast, and flexible backbone.

If these items are on your new initiatives list, you should ask Juniper about their solution migration path that ultimately leads to a high-performance fabric running your data center network as a single switching layer.

A need for speed

You may also be considering the option of a speed upgrade to 10 Gigabit Ethernet (10 GbE) ports [from 1 Gigabit Ethernet (1 GbE)], not only for your network uplinks, but also to connect your servers. If your traffic is growing extremely rapidly, moving now to 10 Gigabit Ethernet to connect some or all of your servers can help you in staying ahead of user demand.

When upgrading the speed of your server connections, you can also eliminate redundant LAN and SAN interface connections on servers to consolidate storage and Ethernet traffic on common 10 GbE connections. Look for a solution that offers storage and I/O convergence yet preserves existing investments in SAN and LAN infrastructure and reduces management complexity.

Storage and I/O convergence require low latency and lossless 10 GbE technologies at the access layer to support Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) and Fiber Channel (FC) interfaces.

Collapse to a single layer network

With the latest announcement of the QFabric architecture and QFX Series components, Juniper Networks offers a solution to create a single-tier network that can be operated and managed like a single Ethernet switch. What is essential to understanding the design is that the QFabric architecture is not a network. It is a switch.

The benefits of running the data center backbone as a single switch that can connect both servers and storage infrastructure include any-to-any connectivity with single-hop latency for all data flows, while also eliminating the challenges of managing the physical locality of processing and data.

The ability to manage the fabric as a single, logical entity without the need to run multi-link protocols such as Spanning Tree or TRILL is almost too good to be true.

QFabric as a one layer backbone

You can make the move to a single layer fabric in a series of steps that starts with deploying a QF/Node, such as the QFX3500, as a 10 Gigabit Ethernet switch. Optionally, you can include Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) and Fiber Channel (FC) interfaces to connect your storage devices.

The QFX3500 supports standards-based FCoE and Data Center Bridging (DCB) features and can operate as a Fibre Channel Transit Switch or Fibre Channel Gateway to support your storage traffic.

When your needs scale beyond a few switches, you can then move to the fabric architecture. The QFX3500 switch requires no hardware modifications to transform into a QFabric QF/Node device.

You can think of the QF/Node as the line cards of the fabric. To complete the deployment of QFabric as a single switching layer, you add the QF/Interconnect, which you can think of as the backplane of the fabric, and the QF/Director, which you can think of as the control plane of the fabric.

Further, you can connect existing racks running other 10 GbE/1 GbE switches into the QFabric through the QF/Node.

When you run Junos, the QFabric components operate as a large distributed switch. As when you operate a switch, you don’t have to configure or fuss with what’s happening on the inside.

QFabric retains the operational simplicity of a switch while being faster, more distributed, and more scalable than any Ethernet chassis. You operate your data center backbone as a single switching layer, providing ultra fast, any-to-any connectivity between the interconnected devices.