Welcome!

SDN Journal Authors: Barbara Porter, Yeshim Deniz, Sandi Mappic, Lori MacVittie, Elizabeth White

Related Topics: SDN Journal, Java, .NET, Virtualization, Cloud Expo, Big Data Journal

SDN Journal: Blog Feed Post

Virtual Apostasy

When all you have is a hypervisor, everything looks like it should be virtualized

When all you have is a hypervisor, everything looks like it should be virtualized.

Yes, I'm about to say something that's on the order of heresy in the church of virtualization. But it has to be said and I'm willing to say it because, well, as General Patton said, "If everyone is thinking the same...   someone isn't thinking."

The original NFV white paper cited in the excellent overview of the SDN and NFV relationships "NFV and SDN: What’s the Difference?" describes essentially two problems it attempts to solve: rapid provisioning and operational costs.

The reason commodity hardware is always associated with NFV and with SDN is that, even if there existed a rainbow and unicorns industry-wide standard for managing network hardware there would still exist significant time required to acquire and deploy said hardware. One does not generally have extra firewalls, routers, switches, and application network service hardware lying around idle. One might, however, have commodity (cheap) compute available on which such services could be deployed.

Software, as we've seen, has readily adapted to distribution and deployment in a digital form factor. It wasn't always so after all. We started with floppies, moved to CD-ROM, then DVD and, finally, to neat little packages served up by application stores and centralized repositories (RPM, NPM, etc...).

Virtualization arrived just as we were moving from the physical to digital methods of distribution and it afforded us the commonality (abstraction) necessary to enable using commodity hardware for systems that might not otherwise be deployable on that hardware due to a lack of support by the operating system or the application itself. With the exposure of APIs and management via centralized platforms, the issue of provisioning speed was quickly addressed. Thus, virtualization is the easy answer to data center problems up and down the network stack.

But it isn't the only answer, and as SDN has shown there are other models that provide the same agility and cost benefits as virtualization without the potential downsides (performance being the most obvious with respect to the network).

ABSTRACT the ABSTRACTION

Let's abstract the abstraction for a moment. What is it virtualization offers that a similar, software-defined solution would not? If you're going to use raw compute, what is it that virtualization provides that makes it so appealing?

Hardware agnosticism comes to mind as a significant characteristic that leads everyone to choose virtualization as nearly a deus-ex machina solution. The idea that one can start with bare metal (raw compute) and within minutes have any of a number of very different systems up and running is compelling. Because there are hardware-specific drivers and configuration required at the OS level, however, that vision isn't easily realized. Enter virtualization, which provides a consistent, targetable layer for the operating system and applications.

Sure, it's software, but is standardizing on a hypervisor platform all that different from standardizing on a hardware platform?

We've turned the hypervisor into our common platform. It is what we target, what we've used as the "base" for deployment. It has eliminated the need to be concerned about five or ten hundred different potential board-level components requiring support and provided us a simple base platform upon which to deploy. But it hasn't eliminated dependencies; you can't deploy a VM packaged for VMware on a KVM system or vice-versa. There's still some virtual diaspora in the market that requires different targeted packages. But at least we're down to half-a-dozen from the hundreds of possible combinations at the hardware level.

But is it really virtualization that enables this magical deployment paradigm or is it the ability to deploy on common hardware it offers that's important? I'd say its the latter. It's the ability to deploy on commodity hardware that makes virtualization appealing. The hardware, however, still must exist. It must be racked and ready, available for that deployment. In terms of compute, we still have traditional roadblocks around ensuring compute capacity availability. The value up the operational process stack, as it were, of virtualization suddenly becomes more about readiness; about the ability to rapidly provision X or Y or Z because it's pre-packaged for the virtualization platform. In other words, it's the readiness factor that's key to rapid deployment. If there is sufficient compute (hardware) available and if the application/service/whatever is pre-packaged for the target virtualization platform then rapid deployment ensues.

Otherwise, you're sitting the same place you were before virtualization.

So there's significant planning that goes into being able to take advantage of virtualization's commoditization of compute to enable rapid deployment. And if we abstract what it is that enables virtualization to be the goodness that it is we find that it's about pre-packaging and a very finite targeted platform upon which services and applications can be deployed.

The question is, is that the only way to enable that capability?

Obviously I don't think so or I wouldn't be writing this post.

COMPLACENCY is the GREAT INHIBITOR of INNOVATION

What if we could remove the layer of virtualization, replacing it instead with a more robust and agile operating system capable of managing a bare metal deployment with the same (or even more) alacrity than a comparable virtualized system?

It seems that eliminating yet another layer of abstraction between the network function and, well, the network would be a good thing. Network functions at layer 2-3 are I/O bound; they're heavily reliant on fast input and output and that includes traversing the hardware up through the OS up through the hypervisor up through the... The more paths (and thus internal bus and lane traversals) a packet must travel in the system the higher the latency. Eliminating as many of these paths as possible is one of the keys*** to continued performance improvements on commodity hardware such that they are nearing those of network hardware.

If one had such a system that met the requirements - pre-packaged, rapid provisioning, able to run on commodity hardware - would you really need the virtual layer?

No.

But when all you have is a hypervisor...

I'm not saying virtualization isn't good technology, or that it doesn't make sense, or that it shouldn't be used. What I am saying is that perhaps we've become too quick to reach for the hammer when confronted with the challenge of rapid provisioning or flexibility. Let's not get complacent. We're far too early in the SDN and NFV game for that.

* Notice I did not say Sisyphean. It's doable, so it's on the order of Herculean. Unfortunately that also implies it's a long, arduous journey.

** That may be a tad hyperbolic, admittedly.

*** The operating system has a lot - a lot - to do with this equation, but that's a treatise for another day

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Lori MacVittie

Lori MacVittie is responsible for education and evangelism of application services available across F5’s entire product suite. Her role includes authorship of technical materials and participation in a number of community-based forums and industry standards organizations, among other efforts. MacVittie has extensive programming experience as an application architect, as well as network and systems development and administration expertise. Prior to joining F5, MacVittie was an award-winning Senior Technology Editor at Network Computing Magazine, where she conducted product research and evaluation focused on integration with application and network architectures, and authored articles on a variety of topics aimed at IT professionals. Her most recent area of focus included SOA-related products and architectures. She holds a B.S. in Information and Computing Science from the University of Wisconsin at Green Bay, and an M.S. in Computer Science from Nova Southeastern University.

Cloud Expo Breaking News
As more applications and services move "to the cloud" (public or on-premise) cloud environments are increasingly adopting and building out traditional enterprise features. This in turn is enabling and encouraging cloud adoption from enterprise users. In many ways the definition is blurring as features like continuous operation, geo-distribution or on-demand capacity become the norm. NuoDB is involved in both building enterprise software and using enterprise cloud capabilities. In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Seth Proctor, CTO at NuoDB, Inc., will discuss the experiences from building, deploying and using enterprise services and suggest some ways to approach moving enterprise applications into a cloud model.
Until recently, many organizations required specialized departments to perform mapping and geospatial analysis, and they used Esri on-premise solutions for that work. In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Dave Peters, author of the Esri Press book Building a GIS, System Architecture Design Strategies for Managers, will discuss how Esri has successfully included the cloud as a fully integrated SaaS expansion of the ArcGIS mapping platform. Organizations that have incorporated Esri cloud-based applications and content within their business models are reaping huge benefits by directly leveraging cloud-based mapping and analysis capabilities within their existing enterprise investments. The ArcGIS mapping platform includes cloud-based content management and information resources to more widely, efficiently, and affordably deliver real-time actionable information and analysis capabilities to your organization.
In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Mark Hinkle, Senior Director, Open Source Solutions at Citrix Systems Inc., will provide overview of the open source software that can be used to deploy and manage a cloud computing environment. He will include information on storage, networking(e.g., OpenDaylight) and compute virtualization (Xen, KVM, LXC) and the orchestration(Apache CloudStack, OpenStack) of the three to build their own cloud services. Speaker Bio: Mark Hinkle is the Senior Director, Open Source Solutions, at Citrix Systems Inc. He joined Citrix as a result of their July 2011 acquisition of Cloud.com where he was their Vice President of Community. He is currently responsible for Citrix open source efforts around the open source cloud computing platform, Apache CloudStack and the Xen Hypervisor. Previously he was the VP of Community at Zenoss Inc., a producer of the open source application, server, and network management software, where he grew the Zenoss Core project to over 10...
Almost everyone sees the potential of Internet of Things but how can businesses truly unlock that potential. The key will be in the ability to discover business insight in the midst of an ocean of Big Data generated from billions of embedded devices via Systems of Discover. Businesses will also need to ensure that they can sustain that insight by leveraging the cloud for global reach, scale and elasticity. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Mac Devine, Distinguished Engineer at IBM, will discuss bringing these three elements together via Systems of Discover.
Cloud and Big Data present unique dilemmas: embracing the benefits of these new technologies while maintaining the security of your organization’s assets. When an outside party owns, controls and manages your infrastructure and computational resources, how can you be assured that sensitive data remains private and secure? How do you best protect data in mixed use cloud and big data infrastructure sets? Can you still satisfy the full range of reporting, compliance and regulatory requirements? In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Derek Tumulak, Vice President of Product Management at Vormetric, will discuss how to address data security in cloud and Big Data environments so that your organization isn’t next week’s data breach headline.
The cloud is everywhere and growing, and with it SaaS has become an accepted means for software delivery. SaaS is more than just a technology, it is a thriving business model estimated to be worth around $53 billion dollars by 2015, according to IDC. The question is – how do you build and scale a profitable SaaS business model? In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Jason Cumberland, Vice President, SaaS Solutions at Dimension Data, will give the audience an understanding of common mistakes businesses make when transitioning to SaaS; how to avoid them; and how to build a profitable and scalable SaaS business.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Gridstore™, the leader in software-defined storage (SDS) purpose-built for Windows Servers and Hyper-V, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Gridstore™ is the leader in software-defined storage purpose built for virtualization that is designed to accelerate applications in virtualized environments. Using its patented Server-Side Virtual Controller™ Technology (SVCT) to eliminate the I/O blender effect and accelerate applications Gridstore delivers vmOptimized™ Storage that self-optimizes to each application or VM across both virtual and physical environments. Leveraging a grid architecture, Gridstore delivers the first end-to-end storage QoS to ensure the most important App or VM performance is never compromised. The storage grid, that uses Gridstore’s performance optimized nodes or capacity optimized nodes, starts with as few a...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Solgenia, the global market leader in Cloud Collaboration and Cloud Infrastructure software solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Solgenia is the global market leader in Cloud Collaboration and Cloud Infrastructure software solutions. Designed to “Bridge the Gap” between personal and professional social, mobile and cloud user experiences, our solutions help large and medium-sized organizations dramatically improve productivity, reduce collaboration costs, and increase the overall enterprise value by bringing collaboration and infrastructure solutions to the cloud.
Cloud computing started a technology revolution; now DevOps is driving that revolution forward. By enabling new approaches to service delivery, cloud and DevOps together are delivering even greater speed, agility, and efficiency. No wonder leading innovators are adopting DevOps and cloud together! In his session at DevOps Summit, Andi Mann, Vice President of Strategic Solutions at CA Technologies, will explore the synergies in these two approaches, with practical tips, techniques, research data, war stories, case studies, and recommendations.
Enterprises require the performance, agility and on-demand access of the public cloud, and the management, security and compatibility of the private cloud. The solution? In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Simone Brunozzi, VP and Chief Technologist(global role) for VMware, will explore how to unlock the power of the hybrid cloud and the steps to get there. He'll discuss the challenges that conventional approaches to both public and private cloud computing, and outline the tough decisions that must be made to accelerate the journey to the hybrid cloud. As part of the transition, an Infrastructure-as-a-Service model will enable enterprise IT to build services beyond their data center while owning what gets moved, when to move it, and for how long. IT can then move forward on what matters most to the organization that it supports – availability, agility and efficiency.
Every healthy ecosystem is diverse. This is especially true in cloud ecosystems, where portability and interoperability are more important than old enterprise models of proprietary ownership. In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Mark Baker, Server Product Manager at Canonical/Ubuntu, will discuss how single vendors used to take the lead in creating and delivering technology, but in a cloud economy, where users want tools of their preference, when and where they need them, it makes no sense.
The 15th International Cloud Expo has just expanded its conference program, to bring together Cloud Computing, APM, APIs, Security, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps and WebRTC at one location. Cloud Expo is the single show where delegates and technology vendors can meet to experience and discuss the entire world of the cloud. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to learn about the latest technology developments and solutions.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Bsquare Corporation, a leading enabler of smart connected systems, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's Internet of @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Bsquare is a global leader of embedded software solutions. We enable smart connected systems at the device level and beyond that millions use every day and provide actionable data solutions for the growing Internet of Things (IoT) market. We empower our world-class customers with our products, services and solutions to achieve innovation and success.
SYS-CON Events announced today that NuoDB, Inc., the leader in webscale distributed database technology, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. NuoDB was launched in 2010 by industry-renowned database architect Jim Starkey and accomplished software CEO Barry Morris to deliver a webscale distributed database management system that is specifically designed for the cloud and the modern datacenter.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloudian, Inc., the leading provider of hybrid cloud storage solutions, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Cloudian is a Foster City, Calif.-based software company specializing in cloud storage. Cloudian HyperStore® is an S3-compatible cloud object storage platform that enables service providers and enterprises to build reliable, affordable and scalable hybrid cloud storage solutions. Cloudian actively partners with leading cloud computing environments including Amazon Web Services, Citrix Cloud Platform, Apache CloudStack, OpenStack and the vast ecosystem of S3 compatible tools and applications. Cloudian's customers include Vodafone, Nextel, NTT, Nifty, and LunaCloud. The company has additional offices in China and Japan.