Metamorphosis of virtualisation technology

Metamorphosis of virtualisation technology

For the past few years, nearly all companies who have to deal with ever-expanding data centres have been talking about virtualisation. The concept became popular at a time when IT departments were getting anxious about adding more servers to their data centres which subsequently increased maintenance cost.

For companies who were just getting to adopt IT, virtualisation is more a god-sent solution to build an effective but not so costly data centres, as it allowed them to deploy fewer servers and helped them optimise their usage. According to Aman Dokania, Vice President and General Manager, Infrastructure Software, Technology Solutions Group, HP, the last two years have been a maturing phase for the technology.

“Initially virtualisation was seen as the best means to solve infrastructure challenges at the data centres,” Dokania said.  “From 2006 to 2008, the emphasis was more on consolidation, but as virtual environments become complex now, we are seeing the emphasis is getting to management. It now needs a single-stack solution to effectively manage both physical and virtual resources.”

While virtualisation in X86 environment has been fairly new, Dokania said it was introduced in Unix about 15 years ago. Almost 70 to 80 per cent of resources in Unix have been virtualised.

“We took the Virtual Server Environment (VSE) technology and introduced it in X86 architecture and the approach had several advantages,” Dokania said.

“Since we did mission-critical virtualisation and automation on Unix for many years, we could bring it over to the X86 architecture using VSE. The stack is also integrated with our storage replication software and therefore when you do the back up of your applications the data is also backed up.”

The single stack, integrated management strategy can be used across the data centre to manage both virtualised and physical servers. Virtual machines are regarded the same way as the physical ones and are given all management capabilities. As virtualisation is becoming complex, Dokania says this approach is important.

“The most important reason for adopting virtualisation has been to stem the server sprawl,” he said. “But as the virtual space started to acquire much of the same complexities as the physical space, they are left with the task of managing the virtual sprawl. A technology like VSE helps to simplify that.”

HP’s strategy has been broad-based With a firm focusing on management rather than merely looking at the hypervisor.

Last month, the IEEE -the body for networking standards- ratified 802.11n,  the new standards for wireless Local Area Network (LAN). With additional definition for security and reliability, the standard is expected to make wireless LANs much more popular and commonplace than it has already been.

“First-generation wireless networks are fairly basic and do not address security a great deal,” said Hitesh Sheth, Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Aruba Networks, who are providing wireless and secured network solutions for enterprises and branch office connectivity. 

“802.11n is going to be the inflection point for wireless adoption across the world both in enterprise and in other verticals such as education. Most of the industry has long been aware of the need for wireless networks but had been waiting for 802.11n and the production/services that would be rolled out along with it,” he said.

About 50 per cent of the end point devices launched in 2009 were 802.11n access -a probable indicator of the speed with which the standard will be adopted in India and across the world. Sheth said this is just the beginning of the end of wireless dominance.
Besides these issues, the changing phase of technology has been contributing to the transition from wired to the wireless network. Corporate offices and college campuses were once populated with desktops which had made wired networks inevitable.

In the last few years, this has started to change with employees getting increasingly mobile and wanted to access applications once available inside offices on the move. Even in colleges, students find it better to go through lessons and take notes using laptops, forcing campuses to go the wireless way. Studies have suggested that adoption of wired networks have declined from 45 per cent to a meagre 11 per cent in the last five years, with experts predicting that it is likely to drop further. “Users are also getting hungrier for access and for availability of multimedia applications. Given that wireless are also going to be cost effective and simple to manage, it is easier to see why they would be attractive,” Sheth said.