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Building blocks of converged infrastructures

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CI redirects data center network design to backplane

Source:  Jupiterimages/Thinkstock

Converged infrastructure (CI) products require extensive networking support.

Instead of using network interface cards, CI blade servers exchange data across the enclosure's backplane, where separate network modules are incorporated. These internal modules support standard architectures ranging from Gigabit Ethernet to 10 GbE or 40 GbE for LAN, iSCSI and Fibre Channel-over-Ethernet traffic, as well as 4-, 8- and 16-Gb Fibre Channel for dedicated storage networks.

The data center network design created by converged infrastructure products allows blade servers to exchange data without it ever leaving the enclosure. Data that does leave the blade enclosure travels on external cabling to other switches, routers and network appliances.

Converged infrastructures favor 10 GbE, which has gone from an unaffordable luxury to essential network bandwidth. This is due to the intensive traffic demands of multiple blade servers, each hosting dozens of workloads.

Dell's M1000e blade enclosure supports the Dell Force10 MXL 10 GbE/40 GbE switch, the Dell M8428–k 10 GbE switch and the Dell PowerConnect M8024-k 10 GbE Switch network modules, along with various Cisco and Brocade blade switches. By comparison, an HP Converged Infrastructure deployment supports HP Virtual Connect Flex-10 10 GbE modules, and might include several of them.

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