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Virtualizing Data Centers Can Be Cost Effective, Power-Efficient, Scalable and Agile


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August 07, 2012

Virtualizing Data Centers Can Be Cost Effective, Power-Efficient, Scalable and Agile

By Ashok Bindra, TMCnet Contributor

With explosion in traffic, data center administrators have been adopting server virtualization to cope with the data deluge. As this traffic further surges, more servers and data centers are needed to process the explosion in information. Consequently, to deal with this trend more power efficiently and cost effectively, data center builders are moving toward data center virtualization.

However, virtualizing data center networks will necessitate changes in the both the control and data planes to manage traffic flows more intelligently and improve overall performance, according to Raghu Kondapalli, director of technology, Networking Components Division, LSI Corp. (News - Alert) Kondapalli expressed these views in an article titled “Virtualization of Data Centers: New Options in the Control and Data Planes,” which was published by Data Center Knowledge on its website.

According to the author, it is important to analyze network-related challenges in virtualized data centers, and see how these are having an effect on network infrastructures — from the SAN to the core. In fact, as per this article, the need for instantaneous and reliable access to data across all segments of today’s connected world is pushing the boundaries of data center virtualization. For instance, wrote Kondapalli, “Cloud computing, with its superior scalability and lower total-cost-of-ownership (TCO), is at the leading edge of this trend by requiring virtualization of the entire datacenter in a multi-tenancy environment.”

To reap the benefits of virtualization, IT departments currently are exploring new options for data center networks. While there are several solutions in the pipeline to improve data center network utilization and performance, isolating the control plane functions from the data plane, and virtualizing both, is a new trend that involves improving the efficiency of the existing network infrastructures with simple upgrades. Scale-out and scale-up are two such techniques that are now being used, which the author intends to cover in a series of articles related to this issue.

The article also focuses on a related trend, the Software-Defined Networking (SDN), which is another abstraction where network application stacks are presented with a virtual view of the network that shields its physical topology. “SDN also enables control plane tasks to be virtualized and distributed across the network,” wrote Kondapalli. He cited OpenFlow as an example of a SDN that proposes to separate control plane functions, such as routing, from data plane functions, like forwarding, enabling them to execute independently on different devices — potentially from different vendors.

The author said that before exploring these proposed network virtualization options, it is important to investigate networking issues in a virtualized data center. And Kondapalli intends to do that in the second part of this series.

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Edited by Rich Steeves

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