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November 2016, Vol. 5, No. 10

Navigate recent changes to data center networking architecture

In the not-too-distant past, traffic forwarding within the data center was simple. One IP address would talk to another IP address. The addresses belonged to endpoints -- bare-metal hosts or virtual machines talking to other bare-metal hosts or virtual machines. The path between those IP addresses was known to the data center switches as entries in the routing and bridging tables. If an engineer needed to troubleshoot poor performance or odd behavior between two IP endpoints, a good starting point was constructing the path between the two by looking at those tables. Equal-cost multipath and multichassis link aggregation added complexity to this process, but on the whole, operators could find out exactly which path any given data center conversation traversed. There was little to complicate traffic flows between endpoints. Network-address translation, encryption or tunneling were rarely present. Those sorts of functions tended to be located at the data center edge, communicating with devices outside the trusted perimeter. Times ...

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