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Data center networks are changing. The three-tier data center network that has been in place for the past decade and a half is becoming less and less the right architecture. Enterprises are continuing to virtualize, and to shift to converged, service-oriented architectures. This places very different needs on the data center network than was the case in the late 1990s.

Right now, data center network engineers face a decision: should they stick with the tiered structure they have in place, or should they flatten the network to boost performance (and probably save some money in the process)?

Here are three reasons why you might want to flatten your data center network:

  1. A flat network makes it easier to deploy certain products. Purpose-built automation products, as well as convergence- and virtualization-related technologies are much easier to deploy on a flat network than a tiered network. A fabric architecture will provide streamlined operations as well as increase performance.
  2. A flat network lets you free up resources. Without massive amounts switching going on, you’re free to use your network resources for other purposes. That means more flexibility for things like quality of service and improvements to allocation.
  3. A flat network is most conducive to virtualized servers. When you move your servers into a virtualized environment, the nature of the network has to change. Because multiple servers run on a single physical device, the rules change. A flat network takes the responsibility for compliance out of the hands of the network and puts it where it should be – in the application.

Of course, flattening the network isn’t right for every organization. You need to make sure there’s a specific business reason to do so. For example, if you’re about to implement a project that you know is going to cause performance issues, it might be best to go ahead and flatten the network.

Obviously, flattening the network also requires a major investment. You’re going to need to be able to demonstrate how flattening your network can increase revenue or reduce costs, which can be a challenge in some environments.



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Unitiv, Inc., is a professional provider of enterprise IT solutions. Unitiv delivers its services from its headquarters in Alpharetta, Georgia, USA, and its regional office in Iselin, New Jersey, USA. Unitiv provides a strategic approach to its service delivery, focusing on three core components: People, Products, and Processes. The People to advise and support customers. The Products to design and build solutions. The Processes to govern and manage post-implementation operations.