Building a new data center? Think WAN

When architecting data centers, consider the WAN.

Practically every company I talk with is consolidating data centers, constructing new ones, or both. These aren't the old "glass house" models of the 1980s and 1990s: They're next-generation designs with racks of blade servers, virtualized clusters and storage-area networks.

What's the hardest part of engineering such a new data center? Often, it's managing power and HVAC requirements. Blade servers can suck up power at a density that's beyond the capacity of many facilities -- as much as 30Kwatt/rack, once you factor in cooling.

Another challenge is deciding where to put the data center. Many IT organizations are considering hosting or outsourcing, which limits the range of physical locations (you can only put the data center where the providers have facilities) but raises the question of which hosting providers to consider.

Whether hosted or not, though, it's important to consider the data center's WAN architecture. Here are a few thoughts to consider:

Bandwidth. With server consolidation, an increasing percentage of the company's traffic is traveling to and from the data center. Companies are reporting a significant uptick in bandwidth requirements across the board -- the typical branch office has a WAN link between T1 (1.544 Mbps) and fractional T3 (up to 45 Mbps). Translating branch office bandwidth to data center WAN requirements can be tricky, but it's safe to say that most companies are looking at T3 to OC-3 speeds, at minimum. Moreover, companies say their bandwidth requirements are growing between 50% and 100% year over year (the median growth reported in a recent Nemertes Research study was 99%) -- so don't assume that today's bandwidths will suffice for tomorrow.

Latency. Consolidated data centers means the company is taking servers that used to be down the hall from users and putting them hundreds (or thousands) of miles away. At those distances, latency can really hurt application performance: many applications assume that network latency will be on the order of a couple of milliseconds, rather than the 150 ms that's standard for a WAN link. This is particularly important for services such as VoIP, which is highly latency-sensitive, so if your data centers contain VoIP servers, you must consider latency. Ask for -- and confirm -- service-level agreeements containing latency from your provider. And where necessary, build a network of data centers to ensure that data centers are close enough to users (a strategy called "regionalization". )

Service type. Although MPLS is the standard WAN service (73% of companies I work with say they've deployed it), organizations are looking at carrier Ethernet (VPLS) or straight-up optical when it comes to data center WANs. Why? See above -- it's easier (and less expensive) to get the ultra-high bandwidths and low latencies from these services.

Redundancy. With consolidated data centers, your eggs truly are in one basket. So as Mark Twain once said, make sure you watch that basket: ensure that you've got redundant power as well as carrier connectivity. Losing either can take down your data center, even if the equipment's fine.

Bottom line: When architecting data centers, consider the WAN.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Johna Till Johnson

Network World
Show Comments

Cool Tech

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?