2012 Prediction: NextIO
2012 will be the year server virtualization pushes into the mainstream of the datacenter. Most datacenters are deploying server virtualization in limited environments today. These are the environments most suited to the current combinations of virtualization hardware and software. Consolidation of legacy servers is a good example of such an environment. That environment places such low demands on the infrastructure around the virtual server that consolidation savings are easy to achieve. However, as server virtualization pushes to become the operating system foundation for the datacenter, hardware and software evolution will be required.
Current implementations of server virtualization tend to focus on the compute and memory component of the platform, with I/O and infrastructure a secondary thought. This works well for legacy server consolidation, where the I/O performance and tax on infrastructure is very low. However, mainstream business applications and mission critical applications require higher performance I/O and careful planning for correct infrastructure fit. As these applications migrate to virtualized environments, the architecture for rack level I/O and infrastructure will need to evolve to support the increased demands. For example, two or three stand-alone business application servers may consume 2Gbps or 3Gbps of network bandwidth. When combined on a single, virtualized system, that load can easily exhaust a 10Gbps Ethernet connection. If server migration is also utilized for High Availability, the machine can easily consume multiple 10Gbps Ethernet connections under peak load. Add in network or SAN storage, and the peak I/O load exceeds 20Gbps easily. That I/O and infrastructure load can spiral into a complex environment with a high CAPEX cost and recurring OPEX headaches.
To combat that infrastructure complexity and reduce the CAPEX costs, datacenters will turn to I/O Virtualization as a complementary technology to Server Virtualization. I/O Virtualization enables a separation of compute from I/O, allowing each to evolve and grow independently. Instead of overprovisioning infrastructure, datacenters will right size their initial purchases and upgrade as demands grow. I/O Virtualization creates pools of resources that can be allocated and shared on demand, enabling on the fly load balancing during peak usage.
Best in class I/O Virtualization solutions in 2012 will be based on PCI Express technology. This technology is embedded into every shipping server. As such, any machine from any vendor has instant access to the I/O Virtualization solution for free. It has bandwidth of upwards of 80Gbps per slot, allowing extremely high bandwidth solutions. It also allows connectivity for any type of I/O technology, enabling niche applications to seamlessly coexist in the rack with mainstream applications. The pairing of I/O Virtualization on PCI Express with Server Virtualization will enable mainstream and mission critical applications to effectively migrate from bare metal to virtual environments in 2012.