Jump to Content

A Guided Tour of Datacenter Networking

Dennis Abts
Bob Felderman
Communications of the ACM -- ACM Queue, vol. 55, number 6 (2012), pp. 44-51


The magic of the cloud is that it is always on and always available from anywhere. Users have come to expect that services are there when they need them. A data center (or warehouse-scale computer) is the nexus from which all the services flow. It is often housed in a nondescript warehouse-sized building bearing no indication of what lies inside. Amidst the whirring fans and refrigerator-sized computer racks is a tapestry of electrical cables and fiber optics weaving everything together—the data-center network. This article provides a “guided tour” through the principles and central ideas surrounding the network at the heart of a data center—the modern-day loom that weaves the digital fabric of the Internet.