Welcome!

Cloud Expo Authors: JP Morgenthal, Craig Ferril, Michael Bushong, Peter Silva, Ed Featherston

Related Topics: Virtualization, Java, SOA & WOA, .NET, Open Source, Cloud Expo

Virtualization: Article

The Benefits of Virtualization

What does the latest Sandy Bridge mean for virtualization in the central office?

Those familiar with deploying virtual machines (VMs) know that in order to ensure performance, VMs must be tied to physical platforms. As the demand for data-intensive virtualized and cloud solutions continues to increase, more powerful server platforms will be required to deliver this performance without significantly multiplying hardware infrastructure for every VM.

The new Intel Sandy Bridge series (Intel's Xeon E5-2600 processor family) is ideally suited for enabling more powerful and efficient virtualized solutions for high-throughput, processing-intensive communications applications. This latest dual-processor architecture features an increased core count, I/O, and memory performance to allow more virtual machines to run on a single physical platform. Virtualization can be extremely memory-intensive, as more VMs typically require more total system memory. In order to optimize performance and easily manage VMs, each one usually requires at least one physical processor core. Using the new Sandy Bridge E5-2600 series architecture can enable individual physical servers to support greater numbers of virtualized appliances, thereby consolidating hardware for lower operational costs, preventing against VM sprawl, and simplifying transition to the cloud with opportunities for scaling up over multiple cores.

The Benefits of Virtualization
Modern carrier-grade platforms comprise unprecedented amounts of processing, memory, and network I/O resources. For developers, though, these goodies also come with the mandate to make the most effective use of modern platforms through scaling and other techniques. Through the intelligent use of carrier-class virtualization, developers can create highly scalable platforms and often eliminate unnecessary over-provisioning of resources for peak usage.

Current advances in multicore processors, cryptography accelerators, and high-throughput Ethernet silicon make it possible to consolidate what previously required multiple specialized server platforms into a single private cloud. 4G wireless deployments, HD-quality video to all devices, the continuing transition to VoIP technologies, increased security concerns, and power efficiency requirements are all driving the need for more flexible solutions.

By deploying a private cloud with virtual machine infrastructure, one's hardware becomes a pool of resources available to be provisioned as needed. The control plane, data plane, and networking can all share the same pool of common hardware.

Deployments can be easily upgraded by simply adding physical resources to the managed pool. Additionally, migrating VM instances from one compute node to another, as Figure 1 shows, can be non-disruptive.

Many telecom solutions require multiple different hardware solutions simply because they are made up of applications that run on different operating systems. In a private cloud deployment, multiple operating systems can be run on the same physical hardware, eliminating this requirement.

A private cloud enables running instances (VMs assigned to a specific function) to be tailored to different workload environments. For example, a dedicated service level can be assigned to each instance, and as demand increases or decreases, other instances can be spawned or decommissioned as necessary. This allows each process workload to be tailored for the moment-in-time demand required (see Figure 2). This ability to tailor each process workload to address moment-in-time demand means the practice of over-provisioning all resources for a "peak workload" can go by the wayside. As resources are no longer needed, they are simply added back into the pool to be used by other instances that may need to be spawned.

Virtual machines allow for the more efficient use of hardware resources by allowing multiple instances to share the same physical hardware, maximizing the use of those resources and increasing the work per watt of power consumed when compared to traditional infrastructure.

VMs also allow for 1+1 and N+1 redundancy through the use of multiple virtual instances running fewer independent hardware nodes, such as AdvancedTCA SBCs. In addition, VMs often require fewer physical nodes to achieve the same level of redundancy. By reducing the physical node count to achieve the same uptime goals, less power is consumed overall (see Figure 3).

AdvancedTCA and Virtualization
For private clouds running VM infrastructure, choosing AdvancedTCA chassis with SBCs for the compute node (the most common core element in any private cloud) makes sense because of their commonality, variety, manageability, and ease of deployment.

Network switches with Layer 3 functionality are the glue that holds the private cloud together. The selection of AdvancedTCA switches will depend largely on the internal and external bandwidth required for each compute node. Video streaming or deep packet inspection typically requires much more bandwidth (and thus higher bandwidth switches) than SMSC messaging, for example, to optimize performance.

The last necessity is also one of the most critical: shared storage. For an instance to be launched or migrated to any physical node, all nodes must also have access to the same storage. In private cloud infrastructure, a high-performance SAN and a cluster file system often supply this access. Connectivity options typically include Fibre Channel, SAS, and iSCSI connectivity. iSCSI with link speeds of up to 10 Gbps is the least intrusive approach to implementation to each node, as the SAN can be connected to AdvancedTCA fabric switches to provide storage connectivity to each node.

To avoid excessive use of fabric bandwidth for storage connectivity in high-throughput environments, employing SAS or Fibre Channels that are directly attached and connected externally to each node via RTMs is a viable option. With multiple manufacturers now making AdvancedTCA blade-based SANs as well as NEBS certified external SANs, many options are available to meet the SAN requirements for a carrier-grade private cloud.

How Sandy Bridge Processors Optimize AdvancedTCA Platforms
The new Intel Xeon processor E5 family, based on the Sandy Bridge microarchitecture, changes how well software applications run on AdvancedTCA platforms. It supports innovative networking through 40-gigabit Ethernet, and its features allow for advanced virtualization and cloud computing techniques.

The Intel Xeon E5-2600 series CPUs consist of up to eight cores, each running up to 55 percent faster than its Xeon 5600 predecessor. It can therefore deliver much higher server performance to the enterprise market. Furthermore, new enterprise servers can support up to 32 GB dual in-line memory modules (DIMMs) so memory capacity can increase from 288 GB to 768 GB using 24 slots. E5-based AdvancedTCA compute blades with more limited board real estate are expected to support up to 256 GB in 16 VLP RDIMM slots at launch. This represents a 40 percentincrease over prior blades.

Greater power efficiency is another key benefit. The E5 family provides up to a 70 percent performance gain per watt over previous generation CPUs. Communications OEMs can develop power-efficient dual processor blades for service providers that fully meet or beat AdvancedTCA power specifications.

But the real game-changer lies in the E5-2600's integrated I/O, which allows designers to reduce latency significantly and increase bandwidth. AdvancedTCA's 40G fabric has been backplane-ready since 2010 in anticipation of an updated PICMG specification release. Since then, solution providers have sought ways to eliminate bottlenecks and utilize as much of the fabric as possible. Now that Intel has integrated the new PCI-Express 3.0 with 40 lanes aboard each Xeon® processor and Quickpath Interconnects (QPIs) linking each CPU together, I/O bottlenecks are reduced, throughput is increased, and I/O latency is cut by up to 30 percent. A standard dual Xeon® E5-2600 CPU configuration offers up to 80 lanes of PCIe Gen3, which provides 200 percent more throughput than the previous generation architectures.

The overall result is much higher I/O throughput. New AdvancedTCA blades will now be able to deliver more than 10 Gb/s per node. This is a critical milestone for wireless video applications that service providers are so hungry to launch. Greater overall performance and higher performance per watt are significant by themselves, but having enough I/O capacity to match the processor capabilities makes for even greater advances in application throughput.

More Stories By Austin Hipes

Austin Hipes currently serves as the director of field engineering for NEI. In this role, he manages field applications engineers (FAEs) supporting sales design activities and educating customers on hardware and the latest technology trends. Over the last eight years, Austin has been focused on designing systems for network equipment providers requiring carrier grade solutions. He was previously director of technology at Alliance Systems and a field applications engineer for Arrow Electronics. He received his Bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas at Dallas.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@CloudExpo Stories
SYS-CON Events announced today that Windstream, a leading provider of advanced network and cloud communications, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Windstream (Nasdaq: WIN), a FORTUNE 500 and S&P 500 company, is a leading provider of advanced network communications, including cloud computing and managed services, to businesses nationwide. The company also offers broadband, p...
The 4th International DevOps Summit, co-located with16th International Cloud Expo – being held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY – announces that its Call for Papers is now open. Born out of proven success in agile development, cloud computing, and process automation, DevOps is a macro trend you cannot afford to miss. From showcase success stories from early adopters and web-scale businesses, DevOps is expanding to organizations of all sizes, including the world's large...
Verizon Enterprise Solutions is simplifying the cloud-purchasing experience for its clients, with the launch of Verizon Cloud Marketplace, a key foundational component of the company's robust ecosystem of enterprise-class technologies. The online storefront will initially feature pre-built cloud-based services from AppDynamics, Hitachi Data Systems, Juniper Networks, PfSense and Tervela. Available globally to enterprises using Verizon Cloud, Verizon Cloud Marketplace provides a one-stop shop fo...
Leysin American School is an exclusive, private boarding school located in Leysin, Switzerland. Leysin selected an OpenStack-powered, private cloud as a service to manage multiple applications and provide development environments for students across the institution. Seeking to meet rigid data sovereignty and data integrity requirements while offering flexible, on-demand cloud resources to users, Leysin identified OpenStack as the clear choice to round out the school's cloud strategy. Additional...
The major cloud platforms defy a simple, side-by-side analysis. Each of the major IaaS public-cloud platforms offers their own unique strengths and functionality. Options for on-site private cloud are diverse as well, and must be designed and deployed while taking existing legacy architecture and infrastructure into account. Then the reality is that most enterprises are embarking on a hybrid cloud strategy and programs. In this Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo (http://www.CloudComputingExpo.com...
We are all here because we are sold on the transformative promise of The Cloud. But what good is all of this ephemeral, on-demand infrastructure if your usage doesn't actually improve the agility and speed of your business? How must Operations adapt in order to avoid stifling your Cloud initiative? In his session at DevOps Summit, Damon Edwards, co-founder and managing partner of the DTO Solutions, will highlight the successful organizational, process, and tooling patterns of high-performing c...
The definition of IoT is not new, in fact it’s been around for over a decade. What has changed is the public's awareness that the technology we use on a daily basis has caught up on the vision of an always on, always connected world. If you look into the details of what comprises the IoT, you’ll see that it includes everything from cloud computing, Big Data analytics, “Things,” Web communication, applications, network, storage, etc. It is essentially including everything connected online from ha...
Software-driven innovation is becoming a primary approach to how businesses create and deliver new value to customers. A survey of 400 business and IT executives by the IBM Institute for Business Value showed businesses that are more effective at software delivery are also more profitable than their peers nearly 70 percent of the time (1). DevOps provides a way for businesses to remain competitive, applying lean and agile principles to software development to speed the delivery of software that ...
Docker offers a new, lightweight approach to application portability. Applications are shipped using a common container format and managed with a high-level API. Their processes run within isolated namespaces that abstract the operating environment independently of the distribution, versions, network setup, and other details of this environment. This "containerization" has often been nicknamed "the new virtualization." But containers are more than lightweight virtual machines. Beyond their small...
The move in recent years to cloud computing services and architectures has added significant pace to the application development and deployment environment. When enterprise IT can spin up large computing instances in just minutes, developers can also design and deploy in small time frames that were unimaginable a few years ago. The consequent move toward lean, agile, and fast development leads to the need for the development and operations sides to work very closely together. Thus, DevOps become...
Cloud Expo 2014 TV commercials will feature @ThingsExpo, which was launched in June, 2014 at New York City's Javits Center as the largest 'Internet of Things' event in the world.

ARMONK, N.Y., Nov. 20, 2014 /PRNewswire/ --  IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced that it is bringing a greater level of control, security and flexibility to cloud-based application development and delivery with a single-tenant version of Bluemix, IBM's

An entirely new security model is needed for the Internet of Things, or is it? Can we save some old and tested controls for this new and different environment? In his session at @ThingsExpo, New York's at the Javits Center, Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, reviewed hands-on lessons with IoT devices and reveal a new risk balance you might not expect. Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, has more than nineteen years' experience managing global security operations and asse...
Explosive growth in connected devices. Enormous amounts of data for collection and analysis. Critical use of data for split-second decision making and actionable information. All three are factors in making the Internet of Things a reality. Yet, any one factor would have an IT organization pondering its infrastructure strategy. How should your organization enhance its IT framework to enable an Internet of Things implementation? In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, James Kirkland, Chief Ar...
Technology is enabling a new approach to collecting and using data. This approach, commonly referred to as the "Internet of Things" (IoT), enables businesses to use real-time data from all sorts of things including machines, devices and sensors to make better decisions, improve customer service, and lower the risk in the creation of new revenue opportunities. In his General Session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Dave Wagstaff, Vice President and Chief Architect at BSQUARE Corporation, discuss the ...
The security devil is always in the details of the attack: the ones you've endured, the ones you prepare yourself to fend off, and the ones that, you fear, will catch you completely unaware and defenseless. The Internet of Things (IoT) is nothing if not an endless proliferation of details. It's the vision of a world in which continuous Internet connectivity and addressability is embedded into a growing range of human artifacts, into the natural world, and even into our smartphones, appliances, a...
"BSQUARE is in the business of selling software solutions for smart connected devices. It's obvious that IoT has moved from being a technology to being a fundamental part of business, and in the last 18 months people have said let's figure out how to do it and let's put some focus on it, " explained Dave Wagstaff, VP & Chief Architect, at BSQUARE Corporation, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"Our premise is Docker is not enough. That's not a bad thing - we actually love Docker. At ActiveState all our products are based on open source technology and Docker is an up-and-coming piece of open source technology," explained Bart Copeland, President & CEO of ActiveState Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps Summit at Cloud Expo®, held Nov 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
DevOps Summit 2015 New York, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that it is now accepting Keynote Proposals. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long development cycles that produce software that is obsolete...
What do a firewall and a fortress have in common? They are no longer strong enough to protect the valuables housed inside. Like the walls of an old fortress, the cracks in the firewall are allowing the bad guys to slip in - unannounced and unnoticed. By the time these thieves get in, the damage is already done and the network is already compromised. Intellectual property is easily slipped out the back door leaving no trace of forced entry. If we want to reign in on these cybercriminals, it's hig...