These days almost everybody who has anything to do with the IT world is talking about virtualization.
What exactly do they mean? Most likely they are thinking about the technology that allows multiple applications to run on the same physical server or to be ported around as virtual but still usable, software images. This is quite understandable considering the many benefits associated with an application deployment model that has revolutionized the way data centres are designed and operated.
In the meantime the scope of virtualization, as IT deployment paradigm, has expanded significantly. The latest implementations provide for the virtualization of all enterprise network infrastructure elements and not just the applications in the data centre. That approach includes routers, switches, WAN connectivity, management utilities, LAN structures and more. Welcome to the world of network virtualization!
In its essence, network virtualization is not an entirely new concept. High availability arrangements have always provided for the flexibility of dynamic use of alternate resources. Except that, in most of those cases, one set of resources (links, routers, etc.) is idle, waiting for the rare failure of the active set in order to kick in. This may be effective, but is highly inefficient. Network virtualization addresses this problem by abstracting all the available resources and placing them under the control of a management and configuration plane that is able to dynamically allocate them based on demand or administrative requirements. In addition, network virtualization creates, when necessary, effective logic separation between resources that are serving the needs of different users. This is not unlike the well-known VLAN idea, except that network virtualization takes it to a more comprehensive and sophisticated level. The business benefits are expected to be huge:
Cost Savings derived from less hardware, more efficient bandwidth utilization and simpler provisioning processes.
Disaster Recovery provisions that are now embedded in the architectural fabric of the network
Inherent Scalability that fits perfectly with the cloud mode for delivery of services
Full dynamic control over network resources with ability to continuously reconfigure them
The enthusiasm for network virtualization can be, at times, tempered by the awareness of some real challenges: security of logical separation boundaries, performance problems due to multiple translations, demarcation and accountability in the relationship between providers and customers. Those issues are being continuously improved upon as equipment vendors and service providers evolve their existing offerings.
There is no doubt anymore; the power of virtualization is reaching beyond servers and data centres. It will come to your network sooner rather than later. It is time to make plans to take full advantage of it.
Take the next step by downloading, ‘The Converged IP Network — Your Future Productivity Depends On It,’ today.