As virtualization continues to evolve, it is pretty clear that just about everything in the data center is going virtual. This is giving rise to the concept of virtual data centers in which servers, storage and networking components are all seen as shared resources.
Hewlett-Packard this week took a major step towards realizing that vision with the introduction of software that allows multiple types of different application workloads to share the same server, networking and storage resources.
According to Mike Banic, vice president of global marketing for HP networking, HP Multitenant Device Context software turns the underlying network into a virtual resource that IT organizations can dedicate any portion of to a specific application workload. This is important not only from the perspective of guaranteeing certain levels of service for applications on the network, but also making sure that networks fully comply with regulations that require certain types of application traffic to be fully isolated. Previously, many IT organizations had to run dedicated networks to make sure that certain types of application traffic were truly isolated. The HP approach now makes sure that application traffic is managed by protected memory to ensure full compliance.
HP this week also introduced the HP Virtual Ethernet Interconnect, which can be used to automate and link eight different data centers together. Operating at Layer 2 of the networking stack, Banic says this interconnect is critical for not only business continuity, but also enabling cloudbursting between data centers.
HP also announced that HP StorVirtual software, a virtual instance of a storage system based on technology from its LeftHand Technology group, has been extended to support high capacities while also adding support for backup and recovery software from Veeam Software. Beyond reducing the total cost of storage, that virtual appliance approach is significant because in the future HP will incorporate a variety of virtual appliances into its virtual data center strategy, says Banic.
As an extension of HP’s previously announced Virtual Application Network offering, Banic says HP’s evolving virtual data center is essentially “removing the human middleware” that data centers today need to manually configure and provision resources. By automating most of those functions, HP is utilizing software-defined networking (SDN) technology to simultaneously reduce the cost of managing the data center while at the same time making it easier to scale the number of application workloads that can effectively be managed per data center.
As virtual data centers evolve, it won’t be too long before the entire data center becomes one programmable entity. In that context, IT organizations will be able to rely on documented programming languages to simultaneously provision networking, server and storage resources.
What all this means is that we’re on the cusp of some of the most profound changes to the way data centers are managed to ever take place. There will obviously be any number of technical and cultural issues that still need to be addressed. But the fact remains that while there is a fair amount of shouting that needs to take place, the process has already begun.