Networks may appear to disappear in data center evolution

Data center evolution will drive the illusion that the network has disappeared, Google networking lead tells networking crowd at Interop 2016.

LAS VEGAS -- Amin Vahdat is accustomed to thinking about the future of networking and data center evolution in his role as technical lead for networking at Google. In a keynote speech at Interop 2016, Vahdat said he foresees a "generational shift in computing," with engineers providing the illusion that the network has disappeared even though it won't, technically.

Vahdat envisions a shift to the third wave of cloud -- which he dubs cloud 3.0. In cloud 3.0, he said serverless compute, actionable analytic intelligence and machine learning will dominate networking, displacing data placement, operating system (OS) configuration, patching and load balancing.

Blurred lines

In Vahdat's vision, encompassing data center evolution as a key ingredient, networks will "blur the line" between servers. In the past, many enterprises multiplexed workloads within their own clouds, while in today's cloud 2.0, Vahdat sees compute being outsourced to public cloud providers.

Vahdat's cloud 3.0 aims to "get the network out of the way," through storage disaggregation, seamless telemetry and an open marketplace driven by securely placed services, Vahdat said. Transparent live software updates will also be significant, with engineers no longer focused on patching OS or virtual machines, and instead working to eliminate downtime between incremental changes. "All of these are going to require fundamental shifts," he added.

Looking to Google's data center evolution through systems such as B4 and Google's cloud platform networking stack, Andromeda, Vahdat said that in the end, the focus is and should be on compute.

In the past, enterprises needed to take down data centers to update them, and Google alone passed through five generations of data center technology, Vahdat said. Through statistical multiplexing and adaptations of Amdahl's engineering laws, Vahdat envisions future networks founded on non-volatile memory, with 100 Gbps links and 5 petabyte per second capabilities. According to Vahdat, enterprises will need to "take the capacity of the entire global internet in high-section bandwidth and put it into data centers."

"Software defined networking enables the network to disappear, driving the next wave of computing," Vahdat said. To achieve the dream of a "disappearing" network and data center evolution, Vahdat believes enterprises will need sufficiently high bandwidth, low latency and low cost, coupled with zero downtime and programmable fabrics.

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