Advancements in Software-Defined Networking Boost Data Center Speeds

Data center congestion is one of the most common challenges faced by IT professionals today. Even the most high-capacity networks experience slowdown when traffic peaks and too many requests are stacked up at a given time. This can lead to frustration for IT administrators and end users alike. Thankfully, advancements in software-defined networking are changing the way data is transported, allowing packets to be sent and received faster than ever before.

Data gets in the fast lane

The most recent leap in network architecture has already made a major splash due a series of impressive tests at MIT, according to a press release from the university. A system named Fastpass was designed on the principle of network centralization, using a software-based 'arbiter' to determine when and where certain packets should be sent in order to increase efficiency.

Hari Balakrishnan, the Fujitsu Professor in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, co-authored a paper on Fastpass detailing the innovation. He and his fellow researchers at MIT are prepared to present on the technology at an ACM Special Interest Group on Data Communication in August. The team was optimistic about the real-world applications of Fastpass, pointing to an experiment in which the system reduced the average queue length of routers in a Facebook data center by 99.6 percent.

"This paper is not intended to show that you can build this in the world's largest data centers today," Balakrishnan said. "But the question as to whether a more scalable centralized system can be built, we think the answer is yes."

Faster networks for all?

According to the press release, this innovation has a promising future in the world of enterprise IT. Organizations able to integrate Fastpass as a part of their data center optimization efforts could enjoy greater network speeds and maximize the efficiency of available assets. This also means that fewer hardware components would have to be purchased in order to keep up with demand, further reducing expenses.
Fastpass "would reduce the administrative cost and equipment costs and pain and suffering to provide good service to the users," Balakrishnan said. "That allows you to satisfy many more users with the money you would have spent otherwise."
PCWorld predicted that Fastpass will be a widely-adopted system in two years' time, especially for organizations that manage high-capacity data centers. As virtualization and other software-defined network solutions appear in the coming years, decision-makers should be ready to change the way they view their IT infrastructure.