By Daniel Tardent
It might be too early to call 2014 the “year of virtualization” but there’s no doubting that use of the technology will grow as will its impact on data center networks.
Virtualization is good news for server utilization, power consumption and application performance. But it is not so good for the network, because virtualization adds extra network loads that can have a significant impact on performance and response times.
“Virtualization is unstoppable,” said Cliff Grossner, an Infonetics Research analyst whose recent report on server virtualization predicts that the number of virtual machines (VM) will hit 30 per server in 2015. The report goes on to say that 75% of the companies surveyed are virtualizing in order to improve application performance and predict that more than half of the servers in their data centers will be virtualized by 2015.
Because the goal is improved application performance, it’s important to anticipate the network problems stemming from virtualization that can grow to dramatically slow applications and to address them before they become a problem.
One big area of added contention is the large number of planned network events that can consume significant bandwidth and leave regular data stalled for hours.
Take virtual machine migrations for example. These are done when the VM grows in memory size or features to a point where it is not appropriate for its host server and must be transferred to a new location.
This is a fairly common occurrence now, but will grow significantly as the number of VMs per server increase. A VM migration can take between 30 minutes and five hours while it sends tens of Gigabits across the network. Another example of a planned event is taking a VM snapshot to record the configuration and data in a VM in the event of a corruption. This, too, involves extended data transfers across the network.
One solution is a hybrid packet-optical circuit switched network. This is an overlay to an existing switched network (either Ethernet or InfiniBand) that provides a high-speed data lane for these planned events that delivers low-latency transport to the destination server while off-loading the traffic from the switched network.
If you expect virtualization to take off in your data center in 2014, then stop by OFC booth #302 to get more information on the benefits of the hybrid packet-optical circuit switched network.
- Daniel Tardent, Vice President, Marketing, Calient Technologies
Posted: 6 March 2014 by
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