Gartner Research

Architecting Physical Data Center Networks to Optimize SDN Overlay Solutions

Published: 15 September 2016

ID: G00309554

Analyst(s): Zack Zilakakis


A simple, resilient and scalable IP-based spine-leaf network design will deliver the agility benefits of a software-defined network overlay. Data center architects can maximize the performance, scalability and agility gains of SDN by applying the implementation guidelines described in this document.

Table Of Contents

Problem Statement

The Gartner Approach

The Guidance Framework

  • Benefits of a Spine-Leaf Architecture
  • Prework
    • Physical Infrastructure
    • Host Connectivity
    • Operational Landscape
  • Sizing Phase
    • Bandwidth
  • Leaf Design Phase
    • Services Layout
    • Leaf Resiliency
    • Host Connectivity
  • Spine Design Phase
    • Layer 3 Design
    • Routing Efficiency
    • Switch Platform
    • Spine-Leaf Physical Interconnection
  • Overlay Integration Phase

Risks and Pitfalls

  • Staying Within Budget
  • Unknown Traffic Patterns
  • 40GbE Investment
  • Vendor Lock-In

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