Realizing Data Center Efficiency with Virtualization and Dynamic Infrastructure - Page 2
Process efficiencies require contextual-awareness such that the infrastructure is capable of aiding in decisions regarding when and how to participate. Because the infrastructure can be integrated, it can both provide and take direction from external management and virtual management systems. Thus, it can provide a greater level of detail regarding the need for additional - or fewer - virtual instances of an application based on current conditions in the user, network, and application environment. It may not be efficient, for example, to launch a new instance of an application if the pattern of incoming requests is trending down instead of up. A context-aware dynamic infrastructure can not only track this level of information but provide data in the form of concrete analysis to the systems responsible for process automation.
One example of this is an Infrastructure as a Service provider that has integrated application delivery networking as a component of with its rapid provisioning services. The system leverages its contextual awareness of the application to make real-time decisions regarding the most efficient and well-performing routing of requests, and passes those requests automatically to the application delivery network devices. The provider has been able to automate processes that take into account current conditions for each application and request, and that would otherwise have been static and manual.
Technological efficiencies come from the nature of a dynamic infrastructure in its abilities to improve the performance of applications and servers (virtual and physical) through offload technologies. These offload technologies - SSL, compression, TCP session management - require a level of awareness peculiar to dynamic infrastructure devices. Context-awareness provides the means by which the infrastructure understands not only the request, but the context in which it is being sent, i.e. user-specific variables, network conditions, site and application status, and current conditions within the data center. Based on any combination of these variables, or all, a dynamic infrastructure can determine how best to apply its technology to every request and response on an individual basis to ensure the security and performance of the application.
For example, some responses will not benefit from compression. The size, type of content, and network link over which the user will receive the response should all be considered in whether applying compression will be advantageous or not in terms of performance and resource savings. Without an understanding - and awareness - of all those variables it is not possible to make that determination.
Bigger Benefits with Dynamic Infrastructure and Virtualization
Virtualization brings with it unique challenges that are best addressed by a dynamic infrastructure. While initially it was believed that virtualization would reduce the number of servers requiring management, the reverse is actually true. In fact, IDC predicted in its "Data Center of the Future" report in March, 2009 that the current 5 virtual machines per server would grow to eight per server by 2012, with research firm Gartner's estimates even higher, indicating VMWare installs average twelve virtual machines per server while Microsoft remains lower at five per server. That's a huge benefit in terms of a reduction in capital expenditures due to virtualization, not to mention the long term operational savings associated with reducing the power and facility costs required to maintain large numbers of physical servers.