Click here to close now.


@CloudExpo Authors: Chris Fleck, Elizabeth White, Jayaram Krishnaswamy, Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski

Related Topics: Containers Expo Blog, Microservices Expo, @CloudExpo, @BigDataExpo, SDN Journal, @DevOpsSummit

Containers Expo Blog: Article

Edge Virtualization and the MicroCloud

Benefits and Difference from Private and Public Clouds

The benefits of public and private clouds based on virtualization are varied and well known. In 2013, more than 40 percent of enterprises have or are adopting virtualized private clouds in the data center, and another 40 percent are evaluating virtualization solutions. Nevertheless, less than 10 years ago, the number of enterprises doing any kind of private cloud virtualization was almost nonexistent.

Some of the benefits driving this rapid adoption in the enterprise, apply equally well for small-to-medium businesses (SMBs) and the edge. These benefits include:

  • Application compartmentalization - containment within the application's own O/S processor and I/O space (prevents single applications from consuming a platform's resources or affecting other applications due to problems)
  • Simplified security and quality of service (QoS) policies - administration across sites, applications, and networks
  • Automated application integration and orchestration - simplification of installation, upgrades, and migrations without platform reboots or network downtime
  • Better scaling and platform optimization - scale is simple addition
  • Improved survivability and performance - treat multiple platforms as one system

For the purposes of this article, "edge virtualization" is described as the MicroCloud - to distinguish it from "public" and "private" clouds typically associated with the data center. The following are distinctive attributes of the edge MicroCloud (versus private and public clouds).

  • It is located at the WAN interface of an SMB (typically the Internet) or a remote site in a larger enterprise (typically MPLS)
  • Network bandwidth is typically constrained
  • The south side of the edge (facing the LAN) is typically less than 200 devices/users
  • Policy (security, QoS, NAC/Network Access Control) is typically required
  • Firewall, NAT and subnet functionality are required
  • The "edge" is typically price and operationally constrained
  • The edge typically applies not only to network functionality but to edge applications as well (e.g., session border control, Wi-Fi controller management, etc.)

It is expected that edge virtualization and software defined networks (SDNs) will completely replace purpose-built appliances and integrated applications at the edge. These are all compelling reasons behind the move to virtualization in the data center, and these same attributes apply equally to the SMB and enterprise edge. When considering a transition to edge virtualization and SDN, you need to look for a solution that provides both powerful networking and orchestration capabilities.

The table below illustrates some of the benefits of virtualization at the edge and is followed by a brief description of each.

Edge Virtualization Feature Example: "Application Compartmentalization"

Virtualization Feature Overview:
One of the advantages of running on a virtual platform, versus adding an application on top of an existing O/S, is the fact that the application can run on the O/S it is optimized for, with resources dedicated for its use. This becomes especially important when the applications are deep and complete, such as with a session border controller or a voice IP key system, particularly when these might need to run on the same platform together or with another complex-type network application.

Example Description:
The following diagram illustrates one of the primary benefits of virtualization: the ability to allow an application to run in its own optimized O/S space with efficiently apportioned resources.

In this diagram, the "Orchestration and Network Manager VM" manages the configuration of the SBC VM as it relates to the disk, network, processor, and RAM. Any additional applications are then appropriately plumbed with proper resource management. This resource allocation is very difficult to do in the absence of virtualization, inasmuch as applications tend to compete with one another in the "user space" of the O/S.

Virtualization allows for quick integration of applications within the same platform. With proper orchestration it is possible to balance application resource needs with platform capabilities. It is not necessary to fine-tune applications to a host O/S, as is done with traditional edge devices.

Edge Virtualization Feature Example: "Simplified Policy Management"

Virtualization Feature Overview:
Policy management is one of the most complex components of any networking application. It becomes particularly complex at the edge when policy needs to be applied across platforms and geographies. Examples include "guest" and "corporate" policies-particularly for wireless access. Policy is typically used to define/limit/grant access to particular resources, such as bandwidth or data for users or devices. The complexity of policy is usually prohibitive in terms of use. Virtualization with proper orchestration greatly simplifies this required but very complex component.

Example Description:
The following diagram illustrates the simplification of policy management across sites. Superimposed upon a real site/policy map are guide blocks that emphasize sites (in columns) and policy (rows). The blue guide block emphasizes where policy (and routing) is set.

Policy management for security and QoS is typically complex and prone to error. Virtualization with proper orchestration greatly simplifies this critical component while improving upon the specific attributes of security and QoS.

Edge Virtualization Feature Example: "Automatic App Integration & Orchestration"

Virtualization Feature Overview:
Virtualization orchestration creates several important benefits. One of the most important of these is the ability to perform automatic integration of applications with respect to the network (automatic wiring) and its associated QoS and security policies. In a traditional implementation without the benefit of virtualization orchestration, integration tends to be fraught with errors, particularly when applied across geographies and between applications. Additionally, updates and changes in a virtual environment can usually be orchestrated as a simple switch from a running VM to the upgraded VM, whereas a traditional environment will typically require a platform reboot-thus causing all applications to lose connectivity for a period of time.

Example Description:
The following diagram illustrates the edge architecture that yields automatic app integration with virtual wiring.

Each of the colored lines represents a virtual wire (circled in red). Orchestration automatically connects these lines to the appropriate virtual switch, interface, or application.

Applications are, in turn, instantiated, configured, and plumbed by the same orchestration software. Each VM will run in its own operating system and be allocated appropriate resources. Additionally, the host hypervisor O/S and each of the VMs are isolated from each other and the WAN and LAN networks by the "network flow manager." This isolation provides both a level of security and an improvement of application upgrades/configurations.

Virtualization and orchestration eliminate many of the problems associated with traditional all-in-one appliances that attempt to run applications that must interact with each other and the network. Configuration mistakes are avoided, and upgrades happen with no downtime.

Edge Virtualization Feature Example: "Scalability and Optimization"

Virtualization Feature Overview:
Traditional methods of application integration usually require platform replacements in order to increase in scale. Additionally, platform optimization tends to be dependent upon the most computing-intensive application, making it difficult to balance between size and number of applications. On the other hand, virtualization has demonstrated excellent scalability and optimization value through simple addition. In fact, the trend is to reduce the size and cost of the platform, allowing more linear growth and optimization.

Example Description:
The following diagram illustrates the evolution of a typical edge configuration towards smaller and less costly virtual platforms that can provide scalable and optimized application and network support.

In order to scale, once a single platform has maximized the number of applications that it runs, it is only necessary to add a second (or third, etc.) platform. This will hold true for most full-size applications, such as web services, databases, file systems, etc., that can inherently take advantage of multiple instances. Furthermore, it is possible to move VMs from one platform to the next in order to optimize the resources of a particular application on a particular platform.

Virtualization in the data center has demonstrated real-world scalability and optimization for applications much more effectively than traditional dedicated platforms. These same attributes will also hold true for edge virtualization.

Edge Virtualization Feature Example: "Survivability and Performance"

Virtualization Feature Overview:
Virtualization not only yields a performance benefit, but also greatly simplifies and improves survivability and distribution (yielding further performance benefits). Survivability in a virtual environment means that even if any application(s) fail(s), the

hypervisor operating system, virtual machines, or other applications do not fail. Applications can be "spun" up in sub-second times when events cause an application, platform, or site failure. Additionally, because of network virtualization, these applications can be distributed across geographies both from a survivability and performance perspective.

Example Description:
From a performance perspective, traditional edge solutions have relied on proprietary and purpose-built hardware, resulting in high costs and underperformance. On the very low end of traditional edge solutions, most hardware is ARM-based, with minimal memory and storage. These solutions typically are purpose-built and rely on open-source applications with a small amount of software integration. Consequently, they are almost never capable of supporting the required performance of commercial or high-end applications. Additionally, because of their singular focus, they tend to be stand-alone devices incapable of surviving any type of failure. Two concrete examples running on the same platform are SDN-based networking and elastic cloud backup. The following figure represents these examples:

In the diagram, there are several points of survivability: 1) loss of connectivity to the data center, 2) platform loss, and 3) primary network loss. In each case the survivability components allow operations to continue, albeit at a reduced level (e.g., LTE speeds vs. Ethernet, routing with no updates, etc.).

Virtualization (platform and network) yields multiple levels of survivability and performance that are difficult to attain with traditional dedicated platforms.

Edge virtualization or MicroClouds can provide enterprises and SMBs with efficiencies that legacy, purpose-built appliances cannot even begin to achieve. The better management of application resources, simpler policy administration, automated application integration and orchestration, and improved scalability, survivability, and performance all lead to significant and measurable cost savings.

Managed service providers and distributed enterprises would both benefit from deploying an edge virtualization strategy. In an example use case scenario of 50 sites where MicroClouds were deployed, there was a 3:1 up-front CAPEX savings and a 5:1 average OPEX savings over 3 years.

Edge virtualization and SDN solutions are here today and ready for production deployments. Integrating them into today's enterprise data centers and SMB environments will establish a foundation for a more efficient, optimized and manageable network over the long term.

More Stories By Richard Platt

Richard Platt is CTO and vice president of engineering at Netsocket, where he is responsible for establishing the company’s technical vision and leading all aspects of its technology development. He has over 25 years experience defining, developing, and commercializing emerging technologies in both start-up and Fortune 100 environments.

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
As the world moves towards more DevOps and microservices, application deployment to the cloud ought to become a lot simpler. The microservices architecture, which is the basis of many new age distributed systems such as OpenStack, NetFlix and so on, is at the heart of Cloud Foundry - a complete developer-oriented Platform as a Service (PaaS) that is IaaS agnostic and supports vCloud, OpenStack and AWS. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Raghavan "Rags" Srinivas, an Architect/Developer Evangeli...
SYS-CON Events announced today that VividCortex, the monitoring solution for the modern data system, will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. The database is the heart of most applications, but it’s also the part that’s hardest to scale, monitor, and optimize even as it’s growing 50% year over year. VividCortex is the first unified suite of database monitoring tools specifically desi...
Organizations already struggle with the simple collection of data resulting from the proliferation of IoT, lacking the right infrastructure to manage it. They can't only rely on the cloud to collect and utilize this data because many applications still require dedicated infrastructure for security, redundancy, performance, etc. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Emil Sayegh, CEO of Codero Hosting, will discuss how in order to resolve the inherent issues, companies need to combine dedicated a...
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...
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Tony Shan, Chief Architect at CTS, will explore the synergy of Big Data and IoT. First he will take a closer look at the Internet of Things and Big Data individually, in terms of what, which, why, where, when, who, how and how much. Then he will explore the relationship between IoT and Big Data. Specifically, he will drill down to how the 4Vs aspects intersect with IoT: Volume, Variety, Velocity and Value. In turn, Tony will analyze how the key components of IoT ...
When it comes to IoT in the enterprise, namely the commercial building and hospitality markets, a benefit not getting the attention it deserves is energy efficiency, and IoT’s direct impact on a cleaner, greener environment when installed in smart buildings. Until now clean technology was offered piecemeal and led with point solutions that require significant systems integration to orchestrate and deploy. There didn't exist a 'top down' approach that can manage and monitor the way a Smart Buildi...
SYS-CON Events announced today that G2G3 will exhibit at SYS-CON's @DevOpsSummit Silicon Valley, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Based on a collective appreciation for user experience, design, and technology, G2G3 is uniquely qualified and motivated to redefine how organizations and people engage in an increasingly digital world.
As-a-service models offer huge opportunities, but also complicate security. It may seem that the easiest way to migrate to a new architectural model is to let others, experts in their field, do the work. This has given rise to many as-a-service models throughout the industry and across the entire technology stack, from software to infrastructure. While this has unlocked huge opportunities to accelerate the deployment of new capabilities or increase economic efficiencies within an organization, i...
Culture is the most important ingredient of DevOps. The challenge for most organizations is defining and communicating a vision of beneficial DevOps culture for their organizations, and then facilitating the changes needed to achieve that. Often this comes down to an ability to provide true leadership. As a CIO, are your direct reports IT managers or are they IT leaders? The hard truth is that many IT managers have risen through the ranks based on their technical skills, not their leadership ab...
Learn how Backup as a Service can help your customer base protect their data. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Stefaan Vervaet, Director of Strategic Alliances at HGST, will discuss the challenges of data protection in an era of exploding storage requirements, show you the benefits of a backup service for your cloud customers, and explain how the HGST Active Archive and CommVault are already enabling this service today with customer examples.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Key Information Systems, Inc. (KeyInfo), a leading cloud and infrastructure provider offering integrated solutions to enterprises, will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Key Information Systems is a leading regional systems integrator with world-class compute, storage and networking solutions and professional services for the most advanced softwa...
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, Bradley Holt, Developer Advocate at IBM Cloud Data Services, will demonstrate 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, ...
Cloud Foundry open Platform as a Service makes it easy to operate, scale and deploy application for your dedicated cloud environments. It enables developers and operators to be significantly more agile, writing great applications and deliver them in days instead of months. Cloud Foundry takes care of all the infrastructure and network plumbing that you need to build, run and operate your applications and can do this while patching and updating systems and services without any downtime.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Interface Masters Technologies, provider of leading network visibility and monitoring solutions, will exhibit at the 17th International CloudExpo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Interface Masters Technologies is a leading provider of high speed networking solutions focused on Gigabit, 10 Gigabit, 40 Gigabit and 100 Gigabit Ethernet network access and connectivity products. For over 20 ye...
Redis is not only the fastest database, but it has become the most popular among the new wave of applications running in containers. Redis speeds up just about every data interaction between your users or operational systems. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Dave Nielsen, Developer Relations at Redis Labs, will share the functions and data structures used to solve everyday use cases that are driving Redis' popularity
For almost two decades, businesses have discovered great opportunities to engage with customers and even expand revenue through digital systems, including web and mobile applications. Yet, even now, the conversation between the business and the technologists that deliver these systems is strained, in large part due to misaligned objectives. In his session at DevOps Summit, James Urquhart, Senior Vice President of Performance Analytics at SOASTA, Inc., will discuss how measuring user outcomes –...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Secure Infrastructure & Services will exhibit at SYS-CON's 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Secure Infrastructure & Services (SIAS) is a managed services provider of cloud computing solutions for the IBM Power Systems market. The company helps mid-market firms built on IBM hardware platforms to deploy new levels of reliable and cost-effective computing and hig...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Harbinger Systems will exhibit at SYS-CON's 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, 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...
As more and more data is generated from a variety of connected devices, the need to get insights from this data and predict future behavior and trends is increasingly essential for businesses. Real-time stream processing is needed in a variety of different industries such as Manufacturing, Oil and Gas, Automobile, Finance, Online Retail, Smart Grids, and Healthcare. Azure Stream Analytics is a fully managed distributed stream computation service that provides low latency, scalable processing of ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that DataClear Inc. will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. The DataClear ‘BlackBox’ is the only solution that moves your PC, browsing and data out of the United States and away from prying (and spying) eyes. Its solution automatically builds you a clean, on-demand, virus free, new virtual cloud based PC outside of the United States, and wipes it clean...