Click here to close now.


@BigDataExpo Authors: Dana Gardner, Bill Szybillo, Ed Featherston, Adrian Bridgwater, Pat Romanski

Related Topics: SDN Journal, Java IoT, Microsoft Cloud, Containers Expo Blog, @CloudExpo, @BigDataExpo

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).


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.


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?


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.

@BigDataExpo Stories
The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing rapidly by extending current technologies, products and networks. By 2020, Cisco estimates there will be 50 billion connected devices. Gartner has forecast revenues of over $300 billion, just to IoT suppliers. Now is the time to figure out how you’ll make money – not just create innovative products. With hundreds of new products and companies jumping into the IoT fray every month, there’s no shortage of innovation. Despite this, McKinsey/VisionMobile data...
"eFolder does a lot of different things but we protect data and we are focused on protecting data no matter where it resides," explained Carlo Tapia, Product Marketing Manager at eFolder, in this interview at Cloud Expo, held November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Most of the IoT Gateway scenarios involve collecting data from machines/processing and pushing data upstream to cloud for further analytics. The gateway hardware varies from Raspberry Pi to Industrial PCs. The document states the process of allowing deploying polyglot data pipelining software with the clear notion of supporting immutability. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Shashank Jain, a development architect for SAP Labs, discussed the objective, which is to automate the IoT deployment proces...
As organizations realize the scope of the Internet of Things, gaining key insights from Big Data, through the use of advanced analytics, becomes crucial. However, IoT also creates the need for petabyte scale storage of data from millions of devices. A new type of Storage is required which seamlessly integrates robust data analytics with massive scale. These storage systems will act as “smart systems” provide in-place analytics that speed discovery and enable businesses to quickly derive meaningf...
In his keynote at @ThingsExpo, Chris Matthieu, Director of IoT Engineering at Citrix and co-founder and CTO of Octoblu, focused on building an IoT platform and company. He provided a behind-the-scenes look at Octoblu’s platform, business, and pivots along the way (including the Citrix acquisition of Octoblu).
In his General Session at 17th Cloud Expo, Bruce Swann, Senior Product Marketing Manager for Adobe Campaign, explored the key ingredients of cross-channel marketing in a digital world. Learn how the Adobe Marketing Cloud can help marketers embrace opportunities for personalized, relevant and real-time customer engagement across offline (direct mail, point of sale, call center) and digital (email, website, SMS, mobile apps, social networks, connected objects).
SYS-CON Events announced today that Catchpoint, a global leader in monitoring, and testing the performance of online applications, has been named "Silver Sponsor" of DevOps Summit New York, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016 at the Javits Center in New York City. Catchpoint radically transforms the way businesses manage, monitor, and test the performance of online applications. Truly understand and improve user experience with clear visibility into complex, distributed online systems.Founde...
With all the incredible momentum behind the Internet of Things (IoT) industry, it is easy to forget that not a single CEO wakes up and wonders if “my IoT is broken.” What they wonder is if they are making the right decisions to do all they can to increase revenue, decrease costs, and improve customer experience – effectively the same challenges they have always had in growing their business. The exciting thing about the IoT industry is now these decisions can be better, faster, and smarter. Now ...
In recent years, at least 40% of companies using cloud applications have experienced data loss. One of the best prevention against cloud data loss is backing up your cloud data. In his General Session at 17th Cloud Expo, Sam McIntyre, Partner Enablement Specialist at eFolder, presented how organizations can use eFolder Cloudfinder to automate backups of cloud application data. He also demonstrated how easy it is to search and restore cloud application data using Cloudfinder.
The Internet of Everything is re-shaping technology trends–moving away from “request/response” architecture to an “always-on” Streaming Web where data is in constant motion and secure, reliable communication is an absolute necessity. As more and more THINGS go online, the challenges that developers will need to address will only increase exponentially. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Todd Greene, Founder & CEO of PubNub, exploreed the current state of IoT connectivity and review key trends and t...
Countless business models have spawned from the IaaS industry – resell Web hosting, blogs, public cloud, and on and on. With the overwhelming amount of tools available to us, it's sometimes easy to overlook that many of them are just new skins of resources we've had for a long time. In his general session at 17th Cloud Expo, Harold Hannon, Sr. Software Architect at SoftLayer, an IBM Company, broke down what we have to work with, discussed the benefits and pitfalls and how we can best use them ...
Discussions of cloud computing have evolved in recent years from a focus on specific types of cloud, to a world of hybrid cloud, and to a world dominated by the APIs that make today's multi-cloud environments and hybrid clouds possible. In this Power Panel at 17th Cloud Expo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists addressed the importance of customers being able to use the specific technologies they need, through environments and ecosystems that expose their APIs to make true ...
Too often with compelling new technologies market participants become overly enamored with that attractiveness of the technology and neglect underlying business drivers. This tendency, what some call the “newest shiny object syndrome” is understandable given that virtually all of us are heavily engaged in technology. But it is also mistaken. Without concrete business cases driving its deployment, IoT, like many other technologies before it, will fade into obscurity.
The Internet of Things is clearly many things: data collection and analytics, wearables, Smart Grids and Smart Cities, the Industrial Internet, and more. Cool platforms like Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Intel's Galileo and Edison, and a diverse world of sensors are making the IoT a great toy box for developers in all these areas. In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists discussed what things are the most important, which will have the most profound...
As organizations shift towards IT-as-a-service models, the need for managing & protecting data residing across physical, virtual, and now cloud environments grows with it. CommVault can ensure protection & E-Discovery of your data - whether in a private cloud, a Service Provider delivered public cloud, or a hybrid cloud environment – across the heterogeneous enterprise.
Growth hacking is common for startups to make unheard-of progress in building their business. Career Hacks can help Geek Girls and those who support them (yes, that's you too, Dad!) to excel in this typically male-dominated world. Get ready to learn the facts: Is there a bias against women in the tech / developer communities? Why are women 50% of the workforce, but hold only 24% of the STEM or IT positions? Some beginnings of what to do about it! In her Day 2 Keynote at 17th Cloud Expo, San...
Apps and devices shouldn't stop working when there's limited or no network connectivity. Learn how to bring data stored in a cloud database to the edge of the network (and back again) whenever an Internet connection is available. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Ben Perlmutter, a Sales Engineer with IBM Cloudant, demonstrated techniques for replicating cloud databases with devices in order to build offline-first mobile or Internet of Things (IoT) apps that can provide a better, faster user e...
In today's enterprise, digital transformation represents organizational change even more so than technology change, as customer preferences and behavior drive end-to-end transformation across lines of business as well as IT. To capitalize on the ubiquitous disruption driving this transformation, companies must be able to innovate at an increasingly rapid pace. Traditional approaches for driving innovation are now woefully inadequate for keeping up with the breadth of disruption and change facin...
The revocation of Safe Harbor has radically affected data sovereignty strategy in the cloud. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Jeff Miller, Product Management at Cavirin Systems, discussed how to assess these changes across your own cloud strategy, and how you can mitigate risks previously covered under the agreement.
Cloud computing delivers on-demand resources that provide businesses with flexibility and cost-savings. The challenge in moving workloads to the cloud has been the cost and complexity of ensuring the initial and ongoing security and regulatory (PCI, HIPAA, FFIEC) compliance across private and public clouds. Manual security compliance is slow, prone to human error, and represents over 50% of the cost of managing cloud applications. Determining how to automate cloud security compliance is critical...