SHARE



ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Tom Nolle
Tom Nolle is the president and founder of CIMI Corporation and the principal consultant/analyst. Tom started his career as a...
Read Full Bio >>
SHARE



Tom Nolle | October 03, 2017 |

 
   

The Virtual Data Center Put in Perspective

The Virtual Data Center Put in Perspective Virtualization and its cousin, cloud computing, will eventually change applications themselves.

Virtualization and its cousin, cloud computing, will eventually change applications themselves.

OK, this may be a pun, but it's true. Getting your arms around this virtual stuff is hard.

That's particularly true when the drivers for virtualization are quite diverse. One common element in all of the virtualization concepts is the notion of an abstraction, something that lets users work with something easy and disguises the hard stuff. From there, you're on your own. The good news is that you can go pretty far with this simple start, particularly if you apply the abstraction notion first to the data center.

Along Came the VMs
Virtualization got introduced to IT and the data center when "virtual machines," or VMs, came along. Even this single trend had multiple drivers. Hardware was growing in power, with CPUs adding cores and servers adding CPUs. The result was a steady growth in compute power, more and more of which was wasted by traditional multi-programming operating systems.

Part of the reason for the waste was that many applications needed to be isolated from other apps, either to secure stable performance or to resolve security/governance concerns. VMs are an abstraction of hardware, representing something that looks like a server and can be managed like a server, but that resides with other VMs on the same physical device. Isolated, protected, abstracted.

Containers, which are simple lightweight virtual elements that also share a server, have been exploding in popularity because they use fewer server resources than VMs and thus allow more applications to be packed into a given data center. Every data center, even those for mid-sized businesses, likely will become totally virtualized using one or both of these technologies.

Virtual Networks, in Two Flavors
And that's created the second dimension of data center abstraction. Sharing a network is like sharing a server in many ways. You have the risk that application traffic crosstalk will create performance issues. You have the risk of security breaches and the failure of compliance audits. Almost from the first of the VM deployments, people recognized that you needed virtual networks to connect the VMs or containers.

Virtual networks have their own two main categories, though the two don't relate particularly to the server-virtualization models of VMs or containers. The first category is the integrated virtual network model, where the actual network devices (the switches that create the data center LANs) create and sustain the virtualization. We know this approach as the VLAN or, more recently, the extended-address-space VLAN, called VXLAN. VLANs and VXLANs are "native" to Ethernet, but they require all the switching devices in the data center to support them, and they're limited by traditional Ethernet LAN features.

Another data center virtual network model comes from Nicira, later bought by VMware. The Nicira approach is to build an overlay virtual network (OVN), created by adding tunnels on top of the network protocols already in place. The advantages of this approach are considerable, to the point where overlay-modeled virtualization is sweeping the market.

The biggest benefit of the OVN model is the fact that it doesn't matter what lower-level switching technology or vendor is in place, or what mixture. If you can carry traffic between devices you can carry OVNs to the VMs or containers on those devices. A second benefit is that you can create and manage OVNs without giving applications or users access to features of the real network devices, access that could allow users to change the network behavior for other users or applications. Finally, you can do things like prioritize traffic or add encryption within an OVN without involving anyone else; it's truly your network.

Operations Automation
Modern data center technology tends to unite server and network virtualization. Cloud stacks like OpenStack and container tools like Docker provide a limited form of virtual networking to steer traffic among containers or VMs. Both VM and container systems are often augmented using DevOps tools (Chef, Puppet, or Ansible, for example, for VMs, and Kubernetes for Docker) that have more virtual network-support features.

DevOps tools, available in some form for more than a decade, are enjoying a wave of popularity because of data center virtualization. Operations automation in a virtual data center is essential because virtualization explodes the management problem. If we assumed a single server could host a half-dozen VMs or about two dozen containers, you can see that the difficulty in running and connecting hosts is multiplied by an order of magnitude or more.

Eventually virtualization and its cousin, cloud computing, will change applications themselves. You can already see this in Twitter's use of functional programming or Uber's microservice-and-event design. Cloud providers like Amazon, Microsoft, and Google are mainstreaming the serverless event-driven model, and that's going to percolate through developers to make virtualization's capabilities a requirement for future applications. This change will be slow to mature, given the enormous amount of inertia in software, but it's going to happen.

All this happy data center change has to be connected to users, customers, and consumers to be useful, of course. Data center virtualization typically creates a "subnet" model, a segment of a corporate network. That corporate network is a WAN, and how virtualization impacts that WAN is the subject of our next blog.

Follow Tom Nolle on Google+!
Tom Nolle on Google+





COMMENTS



Enterprise Connect Orlando 2018
March 12-15 | Orlando, FL

Connect with the Entire Enterprise Communications & Collaboration Ecosystem


Stay Up-to-Date: Hear industry visionaries in Keynotes and General Sessions delivering the latest insight on UC, mobility, collaboration and cloud

Grow Your Network: Connect with the largest gathering of enterprise IT and business leaders and influencers

Learn From Industry Leaders: Attend a full range of Conference Sessions, Free Programs and Special Events

Evaluate All Your Options: Engage with 190+ of the leading equipment, software and service providers

Have Fun! Mingle with sponsors, exhibitors, attendees, guest speakers and industry players during evening receptions

Register now with code NOJITTEREB to save $200 Off Advance Rates or get a FREE Expo Pass!

December 13, 2017

The two major vendors in the Unified Communications space, Cisco and Microsoft, are both strongly promoting their cloud UC deployments. If cloud UC is on your enterprises roadmap, but you dont want

November 29, 2017

As video conferencing use rises in the enterprise, businesses are looking for ways to bring this technology out of traditional conference room and make it more broadly accessible. That's made the h

November 1, 2017

Your customers (internal and external) demand that you offer them the ability to connect by any means. With the adoption of cloud communications tools you now have access to an expanded portfolio o

November 30, 2017
With a ruling on the FCC's proposed order to dismantle the Open Internet Order expected this month, communications technology attorney Martha Buyer walks us through what's at stake.
October 23, 2017
Wondering which Office 365 collaboration tool to use when? Get quick pointers from CBT Nuggets instructor Simona Millham.
September 22, 2017
In this podcast, we explore the future of work with Robert Brown, AVP of the Cognizant Center for the Future of Work, who helps us answer the question, "What do we do when machines do everything?"
September 8, 2017
Greg Collins, a technology analyst and strategist with Exact Ventures, delivers a status report on 5G implementation plans and tells enterprises why they shouldn't wait to move ahead on potential use ....
August 25, 2017
Find out what business considerations are driving the SIP trunking market today, and learn a bit about how satisfied enterprises are with their providers. We talk with John Malone, president of The Ea....
August 16, 2017
World Vision U.S. is finding lots of goodness in RingCentral's cloud communications service, but as Randy Boyd, infrastructure architect at the global humanitarian nonprofit, tells us, he and his team....
August 11, 2017
Alicia Gee, director of unified communications at Sutter Physician Services, oversees the technical team supporting a 1,000-agent contact center running on Genesys PureConnect. She catches us up on th....
August 4, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, has lately been working on integrating enterprise communications into Internet of Things ecosystems. He shares examples and off....
July 27, 2017
Industry watcher Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares her perspective on this acquisition, discussing Mitel's market positioning, why the move makes sense, and more.
July 14, 2017
Lantre Barr, founder and CEO of Blacc Spot Media, urges any enterprise that's been on the fence about integrating real-time communications into business workflows to jump off and get started. Tune and....
June 28, 2017
Communications expert Tsahi Levent-Levi, author of the popular BlogGeek.me blog, keeps a running tally and comprehensive overview of communications platform-as-a-service offerings in his "Choosing a W....
June 9, 2017
If you think telecom expense management applies to nothing more than business phone lines, think again. Hyoun Park, founder and principal investigator with technology advisory Amalgam Insights, tells ....
June 2, 2017
Enterprises strategizing on mobility today, including for internal collaboration, don't have the luxury of learning as they go. Tony Rizzo, enterprise mobility specialist with Blue Hill Research, expl....
May 24, 2017
Mark Winther, head of IDC's global telecom consulting practice, gives us his take on how CPaaS providers evolve beyond the basic building blocks and address maturing enterprise needs.
May 18, 2017
Diane Myers, senior research director at IHS Markit, walks us through her 2017 UC-as-a-service report... and shares what might be to come in 2018.
April 28, 2017
Change isn't easy, but it is necessary. Tune in for advice and perspective from Zeus Kerravala, co-author of a "Digital Transformation for Dummies" special edition.
April 20, 2017
Robin Gareiss, president of Nemertes Research, shares insight gleaned from the firm's 12th annual UCC Total Cost of Operations study.
March 23, 2017
Tim Banting, of Current Analysis, gives us a peek into what the next three years will bring in advance of his Enterprise Connect session exploring the question: Will there be a new model for enterpris....
March 15, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, discusses the evolving role of the all-important session border controller.
March 9, 2017
Organizer Alan Quayle gives us the lowdown on programmable communications and all you need to know about participating in this pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon.
March 3, 2017
From protecting against new vulnerabilities to keeping security assessments up to date, security consultant Mark Collier shares tips on how best to protect your UC systems.
February 24, 2017
UC analyst Blair Pleasant sorts through the myriad cloud architectural models underlying UCaaS and CCaaS offerings, and explains why knowing the differences matter.
February 17, 2017
From the most basics of basics to the hidden gotchas, UC consultant Melissa Swartz helps demystify the complex world of SIP trunking.
February 7, 2017
UC&C consultant Kevin Kieller, a partner at enableUC, shares pointers for making the right architectural choices for your Skype for Business deployment.
February 1, 2017
Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares a status report on the UCaaS market today and offers her perspective on what large enterprises need before committing to UC in the cloud.
January 26, 2017
Andrew Davis, co-founder of Wainhouse Research and chair of the Video track at Enterprise Connect 2017, sorts through the myriad cloud video service options and shares how to tell if your choice is en....
January 23, 2017
Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center/Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2017, tells us what we need to know about the role cloud software is playing in contact centers today.