Welcome back to the final episode of Engineers Unplugged, Season 3! It’s been quite a ride. This week, we take another viewpoint on the hot topic of software defined storage with Mike Slisinger (@slisinger) and Vaughn Stewart (@vstewed). Starting from the application owner’s perspective, this is a great 101 on the choices made on the road to the data center of the future. Let’s listen in:
Better stick to storage, not unicorns! Art by Mike Slisinger and Vaughn Stewart.
Welcome to Engineers Unplugged, where technologists talk to each other the way they know best, with a whiteboard. The rules are simple:
Episodes will publish weekly (or as close to it as we can manage)
Submit ideas for episodes or volunteer to appear by Tweeting to @CommsNinja
Practice drawing unicorns
How far up the unicorn scale is your data center in regard to software defined storage? Post a comment below!
Thanks for your viewership and support of Engineers Unplugged. We’ll be on site at VMworld Barcelona, camera and whiteboard markers in hand. If you’ve got show ideas or questions, tweet me @CommsNinja.
Someday soon, personal sensors, wearable gadgets, and embedded devices and services may make today’s PCs, laptops, tablets, and smartphones look quaint by comparison. But as the Internet of Everything (IoE) ─ with its diverse array of devices accessing a plethora of existing and new services ─ continues to rapidly evolve, user friendly interfaces mask growing complexity within networks. An article on today’s digital designers in the September 2013 issue of Wired captured how the focus is now “creating not products or interfaces but experiences, a million invisible transactions” and that “even as our devices have individually gotten simpler, the cumulative complexity of all of them is increasing.”
Which inevitably takes us behind the curtain to the exciting challenge of building hyper-efficient programmable networks using virtualization, the cloud, Software Defined Networking (SDN), and other technologies, architectures, and standards.
So far, this blog series on The Programmable Network has described various new and exciting capabilities leading to greater efficiencies and cost benefits. We’ve shared with you how you can now:
Visualize and control traffic using path computation via a network controller
Monitor and optimize traffic flows across network connections
Order services through an easy-to-use online portal which then launches automated service creation tasks
VMware launched NSX, its Network Virtualization platform at VMworld last week. In his keynote, VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger portrayed Network Virtualization as a very natural extension to what VMware accomplished in Server Virtualization. However market fundamentals and early drivers for Server Virtualization are not quite the same as Network Virtualization. Hence any comparison and contrast between the two should be understood and weighed on in their respective contexts.
The drive for Server Virtualization fundamentally was an attempt to address the growing gulf between faster rate of technology advancement in server space relative to customer ability to utilize the excess capacity. It was a trend that was driven by the focus towards gaining efficiency in an era where cost was becoming important. Over nearly a decade now Server Virtualization has accomplished this goal of better utilization of assets: And server utilization levels have increased by a factor of 4 over the years.
Networks in the data centers today however do not suffer from this excess capacity problem. If any, the problem is the reverse – user demand for networks capacity continues to outpace what is currently available. As long as there remains a growing gulf between user expectations for capacity relative to technology advancement there will remain opportunity for vendors to innovate in this space. In other words unlike the server world, network virtualization does not shift the value away from the underlying infrastructure.
Server Virtualization is transforming IT by providing greater business agility. Goal of Network Virtualization should be to bring similar business agility for the network. However, this goal need not require complete decoupling of the virtual network from underlying physical network as some vendors may lead you to believe. Any goal of gaining agility by completely decoupling physical and virtual network can only be done with some confidence, by significant under-provisioning of the physical network. For if the bandwidth is plenty the overlays have less dependency on understanding or integrating with the underlying infrastructure. This shortsighted approach, which focuses on business agility, but ignores business assurance, will increase the network capital expenditure and operating expense spend over time. Note that even in the server world where compute efficiency was attained, the benefit did not come at any capex or opex savings. Capex savings attained on server hardware was offset by increased cost of virtualization software. And we have seen opex continues to increase over the last decade.
As IT increasingly begins to take on a service centric view, more intelligence will be needed at the edge – physical or virtual edge. Cisco’s launch of Dynamic Fabric Automation (DFA) last July, address this view of an optimized fabric infrastructure with a more intelligent network edge that can enable any network anywhere, supporting transparent mobility for physical servers and virtual machines. Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) takes this a step further by enabling application-driven policy automation, management and visibility of physical and virtual networks. They however also integrate the physical and the virtual network for an agile service delivery that also assures full lifecycle user experience.
Cisco and EMC continue to partner closely to speed our customers journey to the cloud via our “three paths to the cloud’ strategy. The strategy enables customers to implement custom-design infrastructures with best-of-breed products, validated reference architectures via Cisco solutions for EMC VSPEX, and pre-integrated converged infrastructure from VCE.
In the last year, Cisco solutions for EMC VSPEX have generated significant momentum with customers and partners. In this short period of time we have:
Signed up more than 850 channel partners
Nearly 1,000 VSPEX customers around the world
Published 9 CVD’s focused on virtualization and desktop virtualization
60% y/y growth in viewership on our VSPEX CVD pages
Cisco and EMC will continue collaborating on VSPEX to expand the solution portfolio and accelerate growth. As a preview of future VSPEX CVDs, two new solution briefs have just been released. These solution briefs enable customers to choose their desired hypervisor, Microsoft Hyper-V 2012 R2 or VMware VSphere 5.1, and get a validated configuration for up to 1000 virtual machines based upon Cisco UCS servers and networking with next-generation EMC VNX Series storage. The next-generation EMC VNX Series storage will complement VSPEX solutions by enhancing virtual application performance through multicore optimization software taking advantage of the latest multicore CPUs.
Building your own infrastructure solutions can not only take time and resources but also can introduce additional risk and complexity. This is exactly the problem that Cisco solutions for EMC VSPEX solves by offering presized and validated solutions that give customers confidence that they are deploying the right balance of computing, networking, and storage resources.
Congratulations to the Cisco and EMC teams for their momentum with Cisco Solutions for EMC VSPEX and thank you for making it easy for organizations to quickly deploy a powerful, secure virtualized environment without the expense or risk entailed in designing and building a custom solution.
By Carlos Cordero, Cisco Consulting Services, Service Provider
Cloud consumption models are gaining traction across all company sizes and industries. Whether software as a service (SaaS), infrastructure as a service (IaaS), or platform as a service (PaaS), the value propositions of virtualization are being sought by IT decision makers.
Cisco Consulting Services sees an opportunity for network service providers (SPs) to deliver a similar experience through a new solution architecture that we call network as a service (NaaS). NaaS does for the network what SaaS and IaaS have done for the data center — offering many of the same value proposition components, such as lower OpEx and increased agility, as well as new business model levers and distribution benefits.
A Simple NaaS Architecture Delivers Broad Benefits
To illustrate the value, this paper focuses on NaaS for mobile operators, although similar value could be articulated across all SP segments. Today, the various engineering and operational functions required to enable new customers, new services, and repairs are buried behind monolithic and independent network elements. The goal of NaaS is to simplify the architecture through virtualization, bringing disparate software solutions onto common hardware.
At the heart of mobile NaaS is an intelligent core with the service elements needed to deploy mobile data services (Figure 1). Traditionally, each software element runs on dedicated hardware, but under NaaS, these elements are separated so the software can run on shared virtual machines. The model also includes a common storage and compute infrastructure that can be delivered to the intelligent core as needed through a virtual machine approach. The intelligent core should work across a variety of licensed and unlicensed access technologies, shown at right. The active service catalog represents the SP’s ability to create unique service environments by combining service elements in an automated and simplified way. Finally, the secure portal enables consumers and business customers to access and manage their own network instances.
Figure 1. Mobile NaaS Is Anchored in a Flexible and Extensible Set of Service Elements. Read More »