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Could Virtualization Fundamentally Alter the Computing Landscape? I just read a recent article on BusinessWeekOnline. What jumped out at me:”Some experts believe virtualization could fundamentally alter the computing landscape as companies cope with storing and transmitting ever-growing piles of data-.Companies gorged on low-priced servers to handle tasks like delivering Web pages and planning production schedules. The result: a data-center obesity epidemic, with thousands of machines running way below capacity.”Second to maybe SOA, virtualization is the most misrepresented technology. The message that seems to be perpetuated is that it only applies to servers. Some people think for instance that the V-word is strictly VMWare or Xen. But critical areas of the overall data center like storage and networks can also be virtualized-┬Ła key concept given that storage capacity is growing faster and fatter than server capacity. The prescription that makes most sense here is a balanced diet of dynamic virtualization. So what is Dynamic Data Center Virtualization?When an infrastructure virtualizes the network and critical transport network services (like firewalls, load balancers, etc), server, and storage in the data center we call this Data Center Virtualization.However, most data center virtualization scenarios today are actually static: resources in the data center are virtualized but provisioning of these resources is done manually and is not changed, added to, or moved too often. A better mid-term approach for enterprises and service providers in this case would be to add an orchestration system; something that links the elements together and allows for addition or subtraction of resources aligned to a situation based on actual traffic or, even better, business metrics, service level agreements, etc.In a dynamically virtualized model, time is critical. The faster a re-provisioning event can occur, the more responsive the application can be to the business. When it takes minutes, the main problem solved is the elimination of human-errors and the assurance of compliance with corporate and regulatory policy. As re-provisioning time goes to 30 seconds, or even better, under 10 seconds, real-time and dynamic changes to the IT workload become more responsive, ensuring user experiences and IT service levels are maintained.(By the way, two resources that offer good information on this topic are http://www.vmware.com/community/index.jspa and http://blogs.vmware.com/vmtn/)From a business standpoint, virtualization of the network is important because it can drive increased efficiencies in power draw and cooling/heat dissipation in the data center (for facilities best practices and power efficiency, check out www.thegreengrid.org). It is also important because, as we all know, networks link everything together.Are email servers used all the time? Is usage 80% or greater constantly? Do your servers peak during work-days and ebb during off hours? Why not move the instance of an email server, in real-time, to a machine with many other instances in the off hours? Then, as traffic increases, you can dynamically revert back to a dedicated machine. This would require server and network to both be virtualized and to work together— and generate a solution that would yield greater efficiency. Networks, servers, storage, and applications all need to be coordinated to make this vision possible. Server virtualization is a good start, but until the overall data center is virtualized and the re-provisioning times compressed, the full impact of what dynamic virtualization can enable will not be achieved.Finally, if you’re heading to VMWorld this week, take some of this with you -I guarantee you’ll get a whole lot more out of your experience.

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5 Comments.


  1. Security for Server Virtualization is important. Security for server virtualization not only includes known practices (patching, network fw/ips, logon security and monitor/audit) but also must take into consideration the mobility of virtual servers, ease of adding new VMs w/o installing new hardware in a rack and securing a new OS running on the hypervisor. Threats to be aware which increase risk to service availability, service integrity and service confidentiality:1.> Hypervisor-jacking – compromise Hypervisor OS (buffer-overflows attack) and gain administrative control of physical server2.> Rogue VM – Called VM sprawling, VM servers brought online to steal service or a compromised guest operating system brought online under the control of a remote-attacker.3.> Inter-VM traffic visibility – VMs connect w/in the physical sever via a Virtual network, not having visibility into server-to-server traffic increase risk of VMs compromising service of other VMs.Solutions require security in the server virtualization layer tightly integrated w/ the network based services. Point products will struggle as they can only address specific pain points and lack integration w/ network based services.Vaughn Suazo (Cisco CSE, CCIE 5109)

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  2. Doug,Have you investigated the use of wireless sensor networks in the data center to help provide valuable actionable”" data that can be used to proactively monitor and survey cooling?”

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  3. I think there is a definite possibility of integraton of these sensor nets. The other component we have also been investing in are thermal sensors on all of our infratructure platforms. Catalyt switches, MDS, etc. Not only broad-based sensors like inlet ambient temperature sensors on fan trays, but also discrete per-chip thermal sensors. This allows a wonderful granularity of thermal visibility, and also you can start being more predictive on MTBFs and such.

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  4. I think there is a definite possibility of integraton of these sensor nets. The other component we have also been investing in are thermal sensors on all of our infratructure platforms. Catalyt switches, MDS, etc. Not only broad-based sensors like inlet ambient temperature sensors on fan trays, but also discrete per-chip thermal sensors. This allows a wonderful granularity of thermal visibility, and also you can start being more predictive on MTBFs and such.

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  5. Cisco 4500 Switch or 6300: How many VM servers can one switch port run? please E-Mail me white pappers or config thank U

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