While dealing with virtualization and cloud environments, I've always been interested in solving the issues surrounding I/O. And one of the leading companies in this space is a company called NextIO. If you aren't familiar with them, NextIO is a top of rack solution that separates networking and storage I/O from the compute nodes within the rack by creating pools of virtual I/O resources that can be shared by multiple servers and dynamically allocated among the servers in the rack, working with Ethernet and Fibre Channel.
To dig in deeper and to find out more information about this market in general, I had the chance to speak with Steve Knodl, Director of Product Management at NextIO.
VMblog: Where do you see the most growth opportunities in the I/O virtualization space?
Steve Knodl: In order for companies of any size to compete, they will need to lower their IT deployment and maintenance costs to keep pace with their peers. In order to do so they will be outsourcing services or developing internal services based on the cloud model going forward. Therefore the biggest opportunities are in deploying a cloud- like, flexible IT infrastructure. Many internal IT organizations don’t consider themselves in the cloud business but they are taking the first steps to build this type of infrastructure internally, while all of them are making the decisions about what should be moved to the cloud, either of their making or outsourced.
VMblog: So how has all of the hype around the cloud impacted I/O virtualization?
Knodl: The hype around cloud has really driven home the need and benefits of I/O Virtualization in all deployment scenarios, but in particular cloud. Until recently, the cloud focus has been on virtual servers and shared cloud storage, however, now that users see the increased I/O demand generated by these workloads, both on the networking and storage side, they also have the need to create more flexible I/O architectures to fully exploit the cloud concept.
VMblog: If you would, tell us about some of the most significant benefits of I/O virtualization.
Knodl: For the corporate CFO, the overall solution will lower the initial capital expense for an I/O Infrastructure as well as the lower ongoing operating expenses (OpEx). The IT Manger sees this reflected in greater flexibility on a day to day basis which allows them to deploy I/O only when they need it. When the IT Manager does need it, they can do so flexibly via software and not the rip and replace normally associated with upgrades.
VMblog: What industries are the biggest adopters of the technology? And why?
Knodl: Companies that have fully embraced the power of data are the biggest adopters of the technology. They have the greatest need for increased I/O as each incremental piece of data they collect and analyze drives higher I/O needs. By industry this would specifically mean data processing and Analyst firms, financials, and from an aggregate sense, the Managed service providers who take the small data needs of many clients and reduce their costs by sharing infrastructure.
VMblog: From what I've seen, it seems as though other countries are adopting this technology at a faster pace than the U.S. Why is that?
Knodl: We are seeing some great traction outside of the US with the initial push coming from the UK. One reason is that we have some great channel partners and distributors in the region that are accustomed to selling new technology. The second is that the UK is a frontrunner on environmental and power savings issues and the additional power savings customers get with Virtual IO also makes a compelling case as data centers are upgraded.
VMblog: Why do you think there is momentum around the server I/O space now more than ever before?
Knodl: As OEMs and Integrators have focused on removing bottlenecks and cost from the other areas of the total system, I/O has previously been overlooked. With virtualization and green energy concerns driving efficiency in every area, it was time for I/O to get a much needed makeover.
VMblog: And finally, where do you see the industry headed over the next few years?
Knodl: In addition to rolling out each technology cycle for the virtual I/O interconnects, we see greater integration with the operating systems and cloud frameworks in order to further automate both the provisioning and purchasing cycles for I/O as attached to servers. Virtual I/O from an end user viewpoint or Application consumer will be as transparent as the Virtual Machine they provision today.
Thanks again to Steve Knodl, Director of Product Management at NextIO, for taking time out to speak with VMblog and for helping to educate us on what's happening within the Virtual I/O market.
You can find out more information about NextIO and the company's Virtual I/O solutions at www.NextIO.com.