Welcome!

Big Data Journal Authors: Scott Bampton, Yeshim Deniz, Carmen Gonzalez, Liz McMillan, Roger Strukhoff

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.

@BigDataExpo Stories
SYS-CON Events announced today that Harbinger Systems 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. Harbinger Systems is a global company providing software technology services. Since 1990, Harbinger has developed a strong customer base worldwide. Its customers include software product companies ranging from hi-tech start-ups in Silicon Valley to leading product companies in the US a...
The only place to be June 9-11 is Cloud Expo & @ThingsExpo 2015 East at the Javits Center in New York City. Join us there as delegates from all over the world come to listen to and engage with speakers & sponsors from the leading Cloud Computing, IoT & Big Data companies. Cloud Expo & @ThingsExpo are the leading events covering the booming market of Cloud Computing, IoT & Big Data for the enterprise. Speakers from all over the world will be hand-picked for their ability to explore the economic...
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 bui...
SAP is delivering break-through innovation combined with fantastic user experience powered by the market-leading in-memory technology, SAP HANA. In his General Session at 15th Cloud Expo, Thorsten Leiduck, VP ISVs & Digital Commerce, SAP, will discuss how SAP and partners provide cloud and hybrid cloud solutions as well as real-time Big Data offerings that help companies of all sizes and industries run better. SAP launched an application challenge to award the most innovative SAP HANA and SAP ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that O'Reilly Media has been named “Media 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. O'Reilly Media spreads the knowledge of innovators through its books, online services, magazines, and conferences. Since 1978, O'Reilly Media has been a chronicler and catalyst of cutting-edge development, homing in on the technology trends that really matter and spurri...
The Internet of Things (IoT) is going to require a new way of thinking and of developing software for speed, security and innovation. This requires IT leaders to balance business as usual while anticipating for the next market and technology trends. Cloud provides the right IT asset portfolio to help today’s IT leaders manage the old and prepare for the new. Today the cloud conversation is evolving from private and public to hybrid. This session will provide use cases and insights to reinforce t...
Samsung promises to be one of the 800-pound gorillas of the IoT, if its success in recent years with Android devices and other consumer electronics is any guide. Showing its willingness to be a big IoT player, the company recently acquired SmartThings, a recent startup that's developed an open smarthome appliation that currently supports 1,000 devices and 8,000 apps. SmartThings will now work under the auspices of Samsung's Open Innovation Center (OIC). SmartThings Founder and CEO Alex Hawkinson...
What process has your provider undertaken to ensure that the cloud tenant will receive predictable performance and service? What was involved in the planning? Who owns and operates the data center? What technology is being used? How is it being supported? In his session at 14th Cloud Expo, Dave Weisbrot, Cloud Business Manager for QTS, will provide the attendees a look into what it takes to stand up and stand behind a highly available certified cloud IaaS.
I'll be hosting an SAP HANA Cloud webinar at 11am eastern time, Wednesday, October 29. You can sign up now. Featured speakers will be Allan Adler, Managing Partner, Channel Cloud Consulting, and Thorsten Leiduck, VP ISVs & Digital Commerce, SAP. Attendees will learn about • Cloud economics, hybrid cloud strategy, market size and opportunity • Introduction to SAP HANA Cloud Platform and how to: - Build new next-generation applications - Extend on-premise solutions non-disruptively throu...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Gigaom Research has been named "Media 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. Ashar Baig, Research Director, Cloud, at Gigaom Research, will also lead a Power Panel on the topic "Choosing the Right Cloud Option." Gigaom Research provides timely, in-depth analysis of emerging technologies for individual and corporate subscribers. Gigaom Research'...
Join both SAP and Channel Cloud Consulting for our webcast and uncover how you can extend your reach to capture a piece of the US$17 billion cloud application services market with SAP. Learn about SAPs market-leading SAP HANA Cloud Platform and an exciting opportunity to join SAPs growing ecosystem of Application Development partners. When: October 29, 11:00am EST Speakers: Allan Adler, Managing Partner, Channel Cloud Consulting Thorsten Leiduck, Vice President ISVs & Digital Commerce, SAP
Application Performance Management (APM) has been bred with all the right elements to give us the insights we need to see the health of our applications. Similar to your most trusted watch dog, it alerts us to anomalies when events occur, providing awareness to the environment that only they can observe. As enterprises embrace the DevOps philosophy, and the coalescence of the Development and Operations continues, I foresee the conditions ripening to foster innovative methods of making applicati...
SYS-CON Events announced today that IBM is holding a Bluemix Developer Playground on November 5, 10:30 am to 5:30 pm at 15th Cloud Expo. 15th Cloud Expo, co-located with @ThingsExpo, Big Data Expo, and DevOps Summit is taking place Nov. 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. The labs, for developers of all levels, will highlight the ease of use of Bluemix, its services and functionality and provide short-term introductory projects that developers can complete betw...
The Industrial Internet revolution is now underway, enabled by connected machines and billions of devices that communicate and collaborate. The massive amounts of Big Data requiring real-time analysis is flooding legacy IT systems and giving way to cloud environments that can handle the unpredictable workloads. Yet many barriers remain until we can fully realize the opportunities and benefits from the convergence of machines and devices with Big Data and the cloud, including interoperability, da...
Software AG helps organizations transform into Digital Enterprises, so they can differentiate from competitors and better engage customers, partners and employees. Using the Software AG Suite, companies can close the gap between business and IT to create digital systems of differentiation that drive front-line agility. We offer four on-ramps to the Digital Enterprise: alignment through collaborative process analysis; transformation through portfolio management; agility through process automation...
How do you know when a technology has become mainstream? A good clue may be when politicians start talking about it on the campaign trail and with mainstream media. David Cameron, the UK prime minister, was the latest, indicating that the world was now on “fast-forward” with the Internet of Things (IoT) ushering in the new industrial revolution. No mention of IoT targeted at the masses would be complete without the clichéd example of the communicating fridge. While it is easy to get caught up in...
In my recent article, “Software Quality Metrics for your Continuous Delivery Pipeline – Part III – Logging,” I wrote about the good parts and the not-so-good parts of logging and concluded that logging usually fails to deliver what it is so often mistakenly used for: as a mechanism for analyzing application failures in production. In response to the heated debates on reddit.com/r/devops and reddit.com/r/programing, I want to demonstrate the wealth of out-of-the-box insights you could obtain from...
The Internet of Things will greatly expand the opportunities for data collection and new business models driven off of that data. In her session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Esmeralda Swartz, CMO of MetraTech, will discuss how for this to be effective you not only need to have infrastructure and operational models capable of utilizing this new phenomenon, but increasingly service providers will need to convince a skeptical public to participate. Get ready to show them the money! Speaker Bio: ...
This year like last year, XebiaLabs polled Fortune 1000 companies in banking, manufacturing, healthcare, government and IT, interviewing DevOps teams and everyone from QA to C-level suites. More than 1,000 people were asked to share their perspectives on software delivery trends. Last year the survey found that application deployments fail up to 30% of the time and that 75% of managers believe their deployment process deserves a failing grade. This year, the survey revealed little change in at...
Can a postmortem review help foster a curiosity for innovative possibilities to make application performance better? Blue-sky thinkers may not want to deal with the myriad of details on how to manage the events being generated operationally, but could learn something from this exercise. Consider the major system failures in your organization over the last 12 to 18 months. What if you had a system or process in place to capture those failures and mitigate them from a proactive standpoint prevent...