A recent study by research firm MarketsandMarkets projects the global data center networking market to reach $21.8 billion by 2018. According to the report, North America is expected to hold the largest share of it over the next five years.

The study noted the dramatic market potential created by the demand for cloud technologies and software-defined networking in data centers. The increased use of mobile, driven by bring-your-own device policies, and the use of cloud services have caused data center providers to shift their network offerings from traditional models to those more capable of providing the flexibility necessary to quickly transfer workloads between servers.

This shift in data center architecture was originally driven by the demand for virtualization, but a variety of new changes in the market have persuaded providers to favor faster and flatter models over traditional core-distribution-edge designs. Some of the new challenges facing data center managers include heavy inter-server traffic, burst speeds faster than 1 gigabit and the shift from fiber channels to Ethernet networks.

Data centers can no longer be built the way they were even just a few years ago, as the fundamental structure of enterprise applications have changed and with them the needs of users. The adoption of new, more advanced hardware is placing greater demands on data center networks and fueling a boom in the market.

"Data center networks are being re-architected as part of a transition to the next generation of data centers, reimagining how applications and data centers are built," wrote Biztech Magazine contributor Joel Snyder. "This change extends from the power and cooling to the servers and storage, as well as the networking."

As new data centers are built and their designs continue to shift, requirements for increased security and greater distributed and managed services will be front of mind. Other factors will help to shape the creation of the next generation of data centers, including higher speed, reduced latency, layer 2 flattening and high availability. Demand for the installation of new virtualization and storage equipment will offer data center providers the opportunity to rethink facility design and create truly modern data centers.