Virtualization Comes to the Branch Office

Michael Vizard

One of the popular conceptions of the day is that virtualization is something that happens in the data center to save money.But an informal survey of network managers taken by Blue Coat Systems during the recent Interop conference found that 59 percent of the 150 IT managers surveyed had already deployed virtual servers in a branch office.

The impact this trend could have on enterprise networks could be profound, because each virtual server is capable of generating the same amount of network traffic as a physical server. In addition, the virtual images on these servers tend to get larger over time, which in turn puts more latency pressure on the network than ever.

Blue Coat Systems, as a maker of WAN optimization software, has an obvious stake in this trend. But more often than not, the folks in the branch office tend to do what they please when it comes to servers. It's only when that activity starts having a negative impact on the network that corporate IT takes any notice of what's happening in the branch office.

And what seems to be happening, notes Mark Urban, senior director of product marketing for Blue Coat Systems, is a steady build up of virtual severs that in the not too distant future are going to be making demands for more network access.

Obviously, some of those virtual servers will need to be consolidated just like their physical predecessors. Unfortunately, most data center managers are a little short-handed when it comes to virtualization management tools, so the folks in the branch office are probably in even worse shape when it comes to virtualization management.

The end result of all this lack of virtualization management may very well be networks that are choked with virtual machine traffic before anybody realizes just what is exactly happening.



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