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Virtensys: 2011 Prediction - The future of Server I/O and the Impact of I/O Virtualization

What do Virtualization and Cloud executives think about 2011?  Find out in this series exclusive.

Contributed Article By Bob Napaa, VP of Business Development, Virtensys

2011 Prediction: The future of Server I/O and the Impact of I/O Virtualization

Server virtualization has been growing at a tremendous pace as more and more organizations are deploying this technology in their data centers. One of the primary reasons IT managers are using server virtualization is to increase the agility of their IT infrastructure and be able to rapidly and non-disruptively deploy and re-deploy workloads in order to meet continuously changing business conditions. However, they are quickly discovering that server virtualization alone is not sufficient to meet their agility goals. Why?  Because, until now, they were only able to deploy servers with traditional, preconfigured and dedicated physical I/O resources (I/O adapters, hard disk drives, cables and switch ports). These resources are inflexible, costly and require error-prone and time-consuming manual tasks to reconfigure.

Here are a few thoughts on the future of server I/O and the impact of I/O virtualization on today's IT environments.

Increase use of I/O virtualization

2011 will be an inflection point in the way IT managers are deploying servers and their corresponding I/O resources. Organizations will deploy I/O virtualization (IOV) along with server virtualization to create fully virtualized server platforms where all server resources - compute, memory, storage and I/O - can be configured and allocated on demand to run any application or workload.  A single IT manager will then be able to setup and configure a group of servers only once, and then change - in few minutes - which workloads the servers are running and how they are connected to the network and storage infrastructures. These changes will be automated and performed remotely without reconfiguring physical machines, re-routing cables or tearing down and setting up LAN and SAN connections.

Paradigm shift in how server I/O resources are "consumed"

As the servers' I/O resources become virtualized, system administrators will no longer statically over-provision and deploy "one-size fits all" physical I/O resources. Rather, they will use various levels of QoS with very fine granularity and Service Level Agreements (SLAs) to dynamically provide the "right-level" of I/O to the applications.  IT managers will finally have the capability to optimize the efficiency and utilization of their I/O resources which represent a significant portion of the "server's" acquisition, management and maintenance costs.  IOV will also drive another shift in the industry. Application developers will create more intelligent and I/O-aware applications that can specify their I/O resource requirements be it CPU processing power, LAN or SAN connectivity bandwidth, local disk storage capacity, PCIe-based SSD storage, local cache, or other. Applications will be able to communicate amongst themselves to automatically allocate and share these resources. 

Based on the rapid adoption of  IOV we are seeing today in our customers' environments, I expect IOV to become "the norm" in 2011.

About the Author

Bob Napaa brings more than 17 years of high-tech experience to Virtensys. He was previously the VP of marketing and business development for System Solution BU at Alliance Semiconductor, responsible for the BU's P&L. Prior to joining Alliance, Napaa was at SiPackets since its inception in 2001 as VP of marketing and business development. He was instrumental in the acquisition of Sipackets by Alliance Semiconductor in 2002. Prior to founding SiPackets, he spent more than 10 years at IDT, and his last role was the director of marketing for the Communications and Microprocessor division.

Published Thursday, December 30, 2010 8:52 AM by David Marshall
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