Welcome!

Containers Expo Blog Authors: Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, Sematext Blog, Flint Brenton

Related Topics: Containers Expo Blog, Java IoT, Microservices Expo, Microsoft Cloud, Open Source Cloud, @CloudExpo

Containers Expo Blog: 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.


@ThingsExpo Stories
Information technology is an industry that has always experienced change, and the dramatic change sweeping across the industry today could not be truthfully described as the first time we've seen such widespread change impacting customer investments. However, the rate of the change, and the potential outcomes from today's digital transformation has the distinct potential to separate the industry into two camps: Organizations that see the change coming, embrace it, and successful leverage it; and...
Extracting business value from Internet of Things (IoT) data doesn’t happen overnight. There are several requirements that must be satisfied, including IoT device enablement, data analysis, real-time detection of complex events and automated orchestration of actions. Unfortunately, too many companies fall short in achieving their business goals by implementing incomplete solutions or not focusing on tangible use cases. In his general session at @ThingsExpo, Dave McCarthy, Director of Products...
The Internet of Things (IoT) promises to simplify and streamline our lives by automating routine tasks that distract us from our goals. This promise is based on the ubiquitous deployment of smart, connected devices that link everything from industrial control systems to automobiles to refrigerators. Unfortunately, comparatively few of the devices currently deployed have been developed with an eye toward security, and as the DDoS attacks of late October 2016 have demonstrated, this oversight can ...
Machine Learning helps make complex systems more efficient. By applying advanced Machine Learning techniques such as Cognitive Fingerprinting, wind project operators can utilize these tools to learn from collected data, detect regular patterns, and optimize their own operations. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Stuart Gillen, Director of Business Development at SparkCognition, discussed how research has demonstrated the value of Machine Learning in delivering next generation analytics to impr...
More and more brands have jumped on the IoT bandwagon. We have an excess of wearables – activity trackers, smartwatches, smart glasses and sneakers, and more that track seemingly endless datapoints. However, most consumers have no idea what “IoT” means. Creating more wearables that track data shouldn't be the aim of brands; delivering meaningful, tangible relevance to their users should be. We're in a period in which the IoT pendulum is still swinging. Initially, it swung toward "smart for smar...
20th Cloud Expo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy.
Businesses and business units of all sizes can benefit from cloud computing, but many don't want the cost, performance and security concerns of public cloud nor the complexity of building their own private clouds. Today, some cloud vendors are using artificial intelligence (AI) to simplify cloud deployment and management. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Ajay Gulati, Co-founder and CEO of ZeroStack, will discuss how AI can simplify cloud operations. He will cover the following topics: why clou...
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place June 6-8, 2017 at the Javits Center in New York City, New York, is co-located with the 20th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. @ThingsExpo New York Call for Papers is now open.
"ReadyTalk is an audio and web video conferencing provider. We've really come to embrace WebRTC as the platform for our future of technology," explained Dan Cunningham, CTO of ReadyTalk, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at WebRTC Summit at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Successful digital transformation requires new organizational competencies and capabilities. Research tells us that the biggest impediment to successful transformation is human; consequently, the biggest enabler is a properly skilled and empowered workforce. In the digital age, new individual and collective competencies are required. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Bob Newhouse, CEO and founder of Agilitiv, drew together recent research and lessons learned from emerging and established compa...
Data is the fuel that drives the machine learning algorithmic engines and ultimately provides the business value. In his session at Cloud Expo, Ed Featherston, a director and senior enterprise architect at Collaborative Consulting, discussed the key considerations around quality, volume, timeliness, and pedigree that must be dealt with in order to properly fuel that engine.
Everyone knows that truly innovative companies learn as they go along, pushing boundaries in response to market changes and demands. What's more of a mystery is how to balance innovation on a fresh platform built from scratch with the legacy tech stack, product suite and customers that continue to serve as the business' foundation. In his General Session at 19th Cloud Expo, Michael Chambliss, Head of Engineering at ReadyTalk, discussed why and how ReadyTalk diverted from healthy revenue and mor...
We are always online. We access our data, our finances, work, and various services on the Internet. But we live in a congested world of information in which the roads were built two decades ago. The quest for better, faster Internet routing has been around for a decade, but nobody solved this problem. We’ve seen band-aid approaches like CDNs that attack a niche's slice of static content part of the Internet, but that’s it. It does not address the dynamic services-based Internet of today. It does...
The 20th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Containers, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportunity. Submit your speaking proposal ...
You have great SaaS business app ideas. You want to turn your idea quickly into a functional and engaging proof of concept. You need to be able to modify it to meet customers' needs, and you need to deliver a complete and secure SaaS application. How could you achieve all the above and yet avoid unforeseen IT requirements that add unnecessary cost and complexity? You also want your app to be responsive in any device at any time. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Mark Allen, General Manager of...
Bert Loomis was a visionary. This general session will highlight how Bert Loomis and people like him inspire us to build great things with small inventions. In their general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Harold Hannon, Architect at IBM Bluemix, and Michael O'Neill, Strategic Business Development at Nvidia, discussed the accelerating pace of AI development and how IBM Cloud and NVIDIA are partnering to bring AI capabilities to "every day," on-demand. They also reviewed two "free infrastructure" pr...
Major trends and emerging technologies – from virtual reality and IoT, to Big Data and algorithms – are helping organizations innovate in the digital era. However, to create real business value, IT must think beyond the ‘what’ of digital transformation to the ‘how’ to harness emerging trends, innovation and disruption. Architecture is the key that underpins and ties all these efforts together. In the digital age, it’s important to invest in architecture, extend the enterprise footprint to the cl...
Connected devices and the industrial internet are growing exponentially every year with Cisco expecting 50 billion devices to be in operation by 2020. In this period of growth, location-based insights are becoming invaluable to many businesses as they adopt new connected technologies. Knowing when and where these devices connect from is critical for a number of scenarios in supply chain management, disaster management, emergency response, M2M, location marketing and more. In his session at @Th...
"Dice has been around for the last 20 years. We have been helping tech professionals find new jobs and career opportunities," explained Manish Dixit, VP of Product and Engineering at Dice, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
What happens when the different parts of a vehicle become smarter than the vehicle itself? As we move toward the era of smart everything, hundreds of entities in a vehicle that communicate with each other, the vehicle and external systems create a need for identity orchestration so that all entities work as a conglomerate. Much like an orchestra without a conductor, without the ability to secure, control, and connect the link between a vehicle’s head unit, devices, and systems and to manage the ...