Data Centers

Your Data Center Is a Router: The Case for Reconfigurable Optical Circuit Switched Paths

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Executive Summary

This paper is an attempt to show the feasibility of using circuit-switched optical paths in data centers. The paper not only shows that a small number of optical paths can significantly relieve today's data center bottlenecks but also tries to come out with possible solutions for the various questions raised against the success of using circuit-switched optical paths in data centers. Queries about the integration of circuit-switched optical network into today's data centers with low software and hardware cost, ways of maximizing benefits from a circuit-switched optical network in changing traffic patterns, and implication of data center applications have been discussed and potential solutions have been worked out in the paper. The paper advocates the use of traditional hierarchical Ethernet with a periodically reconfigurable circuit switched optical network between top-of-rack switches. Section 4.1 of the paper shows how the success of this approach depends on the ability to rapidly compute a good set of Top of Rack (ToR) switches to interconnect. The ability to rapidly compute a good set of ToR switches further depends on the existence of traffic skew or the ability to induce traffic skew through extensive buffering. This part has been dealt with in section 3 of the paper. The paper concludes that, though, there are many challenges on the path to a full realization of this architecture, yet, this approach can be used effectively in a variety of datacenter applications.

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