Welcome!

Virtualization Authors: Trevor Parsons, Carmen Gonzalez, ITinvolve Blog, Liz McMillan, Vormetric Blog

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.


@ThingsExpo Stories
In their session at @ThingsExpo, Shyam Varan Nath, Principal Architect at GE, and Ibrahim Gokcen, who leads GE's advanced IoT analytics, focused on the Internet of Things / Industrial Internet and how to make it operational for business end-users. Learn about the challenges posed by machine and sensor data and how to marry it with enterprise data. They also discussed the tips and tricks to provide the Industrial Internet as an end-user consumable service using Big Data Analytics and Industrial Cloud.
How do APIs and IoT relate? The answer is not as simple as merely adding an API on top of a dumb device, but rather about understanding the architectural patterns for implementing an IoT fabric. There are typically two or three trends: Exposing the device to a management framework Exposing that management framework to a business centric logic Exposing that business layer and data to end users. This last trend is the IoT stack, which involves a new shift in the separation of what stuff happens, where data lives and where the interface lies. For instance, it's a mix of architectural styles ...
IoT is still a vague buzzword for many people. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mike Kavis, Vice President & Principal Cloud Architect at Cloud Technology Partners, discussed the business value of IoT that goes far beyond the general public's perception that IoT is all about wearables and home consumer services. He also discussed how IoT is perceived by investors and how venture capitalist access this space. Other topics discussed were barriers to success, what is new, what is old, and what the future may hold. Mike Kavis is Vice President & Principal Cloud Architect at Cloud Technology Pa...
Dale Kim is the Director of Industry Solutions at MapR. His background includes a variety of technical and management roles at information technology companies. While his experience includes work with relational databases, much of his career pertains to non-relational data in the areas of search, content management, and NoSQL, and includes senior roles in technical marketing, sales engineering, and support engineering. Dale holds an MBA from Santa Clara University, and a BA in Computer Science from the University of California, Berkeley.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is rapidly in the process of breaking from its heretofore relatively obscure enterprise applications (such as plant floor control and supply chain management) and going mainstream into the consumer space. More and more creative folks are interconnecting everyday products such as household items, mobile devices, appliances and cars, and unleashing new and imaginative scenarios. We are seeing a lot of excitement around applications in home automation, personal fitness, and in-car entertainment and this excitement will bleed into other areas. On the commercial side, m...
Almost everyone sees the potential of Internet of Things but how can businesses truly unlock that potential. The key will be in the ability to discover business insight in the midst of an ocean of Big Data generated from billions of embedded devices via Systems of Discover. Businesses will also need to ensure that they can sustain that insight by leveraging the cloud for global reach, scale and elasticity.
The 3rd International Internet of @ThingsExpo, 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 its Call for Papers is now open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
"People are a lot more knowledgeable about APIs now. There are two types of people who work with APIs - IT people who want to use APIs for something internal and the product managers who want to do something outside APIs for people to connect to them," explained Roberto Medrano, Executive Vice President at SOA Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Performance is the intersection of power, agility, control, and choice. If you value performance, and more specifically consistent performance, you need to look beyond simple virtualized compute. Many factors need to be considered to create a truly performant environment. In his General Session at 15th Cloud Expo, Harold Hannon, Sr. Software Architect at SoftLayer, discussed how to take advantage of a multitude of compute options and platform features to make cloud the cornerstone of your online presence.
SYS-CON Media announced that Splunk, a provider of the leading software platform for real-time Operational Intelligence, has launched an ad campaign on Big Data Journal. Splunk software and cloud services enable organizations to search, monitor, analyze and visualize machine-generated big data coming from websites, applications, servers, networks, sensors and mobile devices. The ads focus on delivering ROI - how improved uptime delivered $6M in annual ROI, improving customer operations by mining large volumes of unstructured data, and how data tracking delivers uptime when it matters most.
Cultural, regulatory, environmental, political and economic (CREPE) conditions over the past decade are creating cross-industry solution spaces that require processes and technologies from both the Internet of Things (IoT), and Data Management and Analytics (DMA). These solution spaces are evolving into Sensor Analytics Ecosystems (SAE) that represent significant new opportunities for organizations of all types. Public Utilities throughout the world, providing electricity, natural gas and water, are pursuing SmartGrid initiatives that represent one of the more mature examples of SAE. We have s...
Since 2008 and for the first time in history, more than half of humans live in urban areas, urging cities to become “smart.” Today, cities can leverage the wide availability of smartphones combined with new technologies such as Beacons or NFC to connect their urban furniture and environment to create citizen-first services that improve transportation, way-finding and information delivery. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Laetitia Gazel-Anthoine, CEO of Connecthings, will focus on successful use cases.
The Internet of Things will greatly expand the opportunities for data collection and new business models driven off of that data. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Esmeralda Swartz, CMO of MetraTech, discussed how for this to be effective you not only need to have infrastructure and operational models capable of utilizing this new phenomenon, but increasingly service providers will need to convince a skeptical public to participate. Get ready to show them the money!
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 at launch. DevOps may be disruptive, but it is essential.
“With easy-to-use SDKs for Atmel’s platforms, IoT developers can now reap the benefits of realtime communication, and bypass the security pitfalls and configuration complexities that put IoT deployments at risk,” said Todd Greene, founder & CEO of PubNub. PubNub will team with Atmel at CES 2015 to launch full SDK support for Atmel’s MCU, MPU, and Wireless SoC platforms. Atmel developers now have access to PubNub’s secure Publish/Subscribe messaging with guaranteed ¼ second latencies across PubNub’s 14 global points-of-presence. PubNub delivers secure communication through firewalls, proxy ser...
The industrial software market has treated data with the mentality of “collect everything now, worry about how to use it later.” We now find ourselves buried in data, with the pervasive connectivity of the (Industrial) Internet of Things only piling on more numbers. There’s too much data and not enough information. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Bob Gates, Global Marketing Director, GE’s Intelligent Platforms business, to discuss how realizing the power of IoT, software developers are now focused on understanding how industrial data can create intelligence for industrial operations. Imagine ...
The true value of the Internet of Things (IoT) lies not just in the data, but through the services that protect the data, perform the analysis and present findings in a usable way. With many IoT elements rooted in traditional IT components, Big Data and IoT isn’t just a play for enterprise. In fact, the IoT presents SMBs with the prospect of launching entirely new activities and exploring innovative areas. CompTIA research identifies several areas where IoT is expected to have the greatest impact.
The 3rd International Internet of @ThingsExpo, 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 its Call for Papers is now open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
The Internet of Things promises to transform businesses (and lives), but navigating the business and technical path to success can be difficult to understand. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Sean Lorenz, Technical Product Manager for Xively at LogMeIn, demonstrated how to approach creating broadly successful connected customer solutions using real world business transformation studies including New England BioLabs and more.
Connected devices and the Internet of Things are getting significant momentum in 2014. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Hunter, Chief Scientist & Technology Evangelist at Greenwave Systems, examined three key elements that together will drive mass adoption of the IoT before the end of 2015. The first element is the recent advent of robust open source protocols (like AllJoyn and WebRTC) that facilitate M2M communication. The second is broad availability of flexible, cost-effective storage designed to handle the massive surge in back-end data in a world where timely analytics is e...