Interop New York: Flat networks and the end of spanning tree

At the Interop New York 2010 conference, data center networks strategies will be discussed.

Interop speakers have been bidding farewell to spanning tree and welcoming in the flat network for at least two years now. But this year at Interop New York, vendors will each offer up their own method for collapsing the network tiers to lessen latency and beef up performance for virtualization and ultimately the dynamic cloud.

Spanning tree determines only one path of transport from one point to another on the network, closing off all other paths. This can be inefficient in a virtualized environment that relies on multiple non-blocked connections between servers for automated VM migration.

"There are some technologies out there that [with which] you can have all links active on your switches with much higher throughput, allowing people to come down to a two-tiered architecture. And in the distance, there is a vague possibility of a one-tiered architecture," says Interop networking chair Jim Metzler.

But the paths to a two-tier network are many -- and many network engineers are hard programmed to design use spanning tree. At Interop New York, networking vendors will have to make the short-term business case for a switch and offer up a topology that doesn't seem too challenging to manage.

NEXT: It's not all about the data center network …

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This was first published in October 2010

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