Managing the Movement of Virtual Machines

Michael Vizard

One of the more challenging things about virtualization is the simple fact that virtual machines can move. That means that a virtual machine that was once physically close to the data it needs to access can theoretically be moved to a server anywhere on a global network. Obviously, that scenario creates some application performance management challenges, especially across a wide area network.

It was interesting to see EMC, the parent company of VMware, move to address this issue with the release of its VPLEX Geo offering that allows multiple geographically distributed storage resources to appear as one logical entity. The trick, of course, is making that work across a wide area network.

To address that part of the equation EMC has partnered with Silver Peak Systems, a provider of wide area network (WAN) optimization tools. Using either physical or virtual appliances, Silver Peak can reduce the amount of bandwidth consumed by VPLEX Geo by a factor of 20, says Larry Cormier, Silver Peak senior vice president of worldwide marketing. The Silver Peak tools also provide for inline data deduplication and give customers the option to use multiple WAN services based on the costs involved or the performance attributes desired.

The degree to which any IT organization is going to allow virtual machines to move around its network is going to vary widely. But there's no doubt that it's going to happen at some point, and when it does, IT organizations are going to have to first figure out how to minimize the impact of such a move on performance and then ultimately figure out how to transfer that data somewhere close to where that virtual machine is now located. The challenge, of course, is trying to figure out how to do that in the least disruptive way possible.

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