The current buzzword in technology circles is Artificial Intelligence or AI. As proof of this (as if today’s headlines aren’t proof enough), a Google search of “AI in business technology” results in 1.63 billion URLs related to the topic. As a leader in network observability and switch technology, APCON is meeting the growing demand for high-speed, 400G AI traffic processing in business—an inevitable progression facing the worldwide networking community.
Network engineers are striving to improve line rates that are too slow to accommodate a higher volume of data—much like Top Gun’s Maverick: “I feel the need...the need...for SPEED!” At the same time, they battle the four-headed monster of Budget, Performance, Reliability, and Security. In this environment, Network Packet Brokers (NPBs) like APCON have emerged as indispensable allies in empowering data centers to efficiently manage the surging tide of 400G AI traffic. Simply stated, NPBs are devices or software solutions that assist in the efficient and intelligent distribution of network traffic. Within that short definition, many volumes could be written on the practical aspects of network observability, but this discussion is to help prepare you specifically for the current wave of high-speed AI traffic.
The 400G AI Traffic Conundrum
The emergence of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) applications has unleashed an informational tsunami upon data centers. AI workloads require networks to handle massive volumes of information at lightning-fast speeds. This is where the 400G Ethernet standard comes into play, promising four times the bandwidth of 100G predecessors. However, this exponential increase in network speed has left network engineers juggling a series of complex challenges:
- Bandwidth Bottlenecks: Companies still using years-old legacy network infrastructures often struggle to keep pace with 400G traffic, leading to bottlenecks and performance degradation.
- Data Loss and Overwhelmed Monitoring Tools: The sheer volume of data can overwhelm monitoring and security tools that are much more comfortable receiving data streams of 1G, 10G, or 25G, a circumstance resulting in oversubscription of appliances, lost packets, and possible network downtime.
- Network Visibility: Processing this high-speed traffic is asking network tools to drink from the proverbial fire hose. Network engineers need clear visibility to effectively troubleshoot, analyze, and optimize networks despite the deluge of data.
Enter the Network Packet Broker (NPB)
NPBs are the unsung heroes of data centers, providing critical capabilities to tackle the challenges posed by 400G AI traffic:
- Traffic Aggregation and Filtering: NPBs can aggregate traffic from multiple network links, eliminating the need for complex cabling while ensuring that monitoring tools only receive the data they require.
- Deduplication: Identify and eliminate duplicate packets, reducing the load on monitoring tools and preventing unnecessary processing.
- Load Balancing: Distribute incoming traffic evenly across multiple monitoring tools, preventing tool oversubscription and ensuring optimal performance.
- Packet Slicing: With the ability to slice packets into smaller, manageable portions, NPBs help monitoring tools handle high-speed traffic more effectively.
The Role of Network Visibility Providers
APCON, a 30-year veteran in network visibility, plays a crucial role in enhancing the capabilities of high-speed networks dealing with 400G AI traffic:
- Enhanced Network Performance: APCON solutions optimize traffic flow, thereby reducing congestion and ensuring that monitoring and security tools—even the 1G-40G varieties—operate at peak efficiency. APCON offers 400G QSFP-DD connections (a leading form factor for its high density and low power consumption) as well as multiple breakout speeds to help you maximize port usage.
- Budget Assistance: By preventing oversubscription and optimizing older tool traffic flows, APCON helps organizations make the most of their existing infrastructure, reducing the need for costly upgrades.
- Security and Compliance: Serving as network traffic cops, APCON solutions enhance data center security efforts by providing continuous visibility into network data flows, helping organizations meet compliance requirements, and exposing packet-level characteristics to help network security teams quickly identify and respond to threats.
APCON’s extensive product line of data center hardware and software can enhance the efficiency, security, and performance of AI traffic within a network environment. Prepared to meet your 400G speed requirements, APCON intelligently manages and directs data flows to and from AI systems, enabling organizations to harness the full potential of their AI endeavors while maintaining network integrity, minimal latency, and optimal performance. For more information on APCON’s 400G products, visit APCON.com.