Packet switching is the process of transporting packaged data from one location on the network to another via routers and network switches.

The hierarchy of packet-switching networksEricsson_cloud_hyperscale_packet_switching_graphic.jpg

Packet-switching networks are constructed in a hierarchy that begins with the individual computers at the bottom. They feed into an aggregation layer, and multiple aggregation layers feed into a distribution layer.

This topology proved quite useful until networks got bigger. As more and more aggregation and core layers were added, the network hierarchy became too complex. And as this type of network grew, contracted, or needed repairs and upgrades, it became more and more complicated to manage.

Moving large amounts of data

Packet switching was also not effective at moving large amounts of data. Because data was processed at the bit level, once a packet got into a switch, it took a long time to get out: a little like moving one box at a time using very fast motorcycles but making the riders stop at every intersection to show their driver’s license and registration.

Optical switching addressed some of the deficiencies of packet switching, but it was too bulky and too expensive for most datacenters. However, two recent developments are going to make optical switching more feasible. The first is the explosion in the amount of data that datacenters will need to transmit. The second is the development of the photonic system on a chip.

How optical networks add value in the datacenter

But is it right for you? Would introducing optical networks into your datacenter add value? The following paper attempts to answer those questions with a minimum of technical background.

Download the paper

About the Photo

I took the photo of the yellow 2001 Ducati 748S and the red 2015 Ducati Monster 821 in my driveway in late Fall 2014. The Ducati 748S is the most beautiful motorcycle I've ever owned.


Data & Analytics Cloud Infrastructure

Rick Ramsey

I started my high tech training as an avionics technician in the US Air Force. While studying Economics at UC Berkeley, I wrote reference manuals and developer guides for two artificial intelligence languages, ART and SYNTEL. At Sun Microsystems I wrote about hardware, software, and toolkits for developers and sysadmins, and published “All About Administering NIS+.” I served as information architect before joining BigAdmin, which morphed into the Systems Community at Oracle. I left Oracle in May of 2015, and now write for Ericsson.

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