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Many data center customers have a growing need for more bandwidth for communications within a data center, called east-west traffic. Data center network traffic is on the rise. To meet this need, we are implementing a network architecture called data center fabric into several of our data centers. Data center fabric is a two-layer network architecture with a spine-leaf design that provides high bandwidth, agility and resilience for communications within the data center. Here’s what you need to know about east-west traffic, data center fabric, and spine-leaf design – and TierPoint’s embrace of this highly capable networking foundation.
Growing Volumes of East-West Traffic
More than three-quarters of data center traffic is consumed within the same data center. This intra-facility communication is called east-west traffic, while traffic into and out of the data center is called north-south traffic.
These terms align with data center drawings, where the local area network is depicted horizontally, which would be east and west on a geographical map. External connectivity is placed above and below, or north and south on a map.
East-west traffic stays within the data center and includes communication between virtual machines, network devices, backups, storage and physical servers. Typically, applications and servers within the data center need to talk to each other at very high speeds and with low latency. East-west traffic can also include traffic between data centers, if they are very close to each other and have sufficient connectivity capacity and speed.
In contrast, north-south traffic makes its way to routers and firewalls that aggregate connections. North-south traffic is generally destined for points outside the data center, such as to the internet and direct connections to other data centers and cloud service providers.