To better handle data center congestion, researchers are testing a shortcut that doesn’t involve costly rewiring. They are experimenting with wireless links, mounted atop the server racks, to supply extra bandwidth for moving data along at crunch times.
The Microsoft team forged ahead with the project, building and testing a system with tiny directional antennas at the top of each rack to send and receive data. A central controller monitors traffic patterns, finds network bottlenecks, configures the antennas and turns on the wireless links when more bandwidth is required. Signals go out on a horizontal plane and are steered right or left. The design sped up traffic by at least 45 percent in 95 percent of the cases tested.