When creating the datacenter of tomorrow, sometimes dubbed datacenter 2.0 or even 3.0 (depending on who you ask), we look to certain virtualization technologies to get us there. We focus on server virtualization as the giant of this industry, but we also look to application, storage, and even desktop virtualization to help us carve out and shape this thing. An area that hasn't received a lot of attention is network I/O virtualization.
To find out more about this, I spoke with Rolf Neugebauer, a software engineer who works on virtualization support for Netronome's line of Intelligent Network Processors. Prior to joining Netronome, Rolf worked at Microsoft and Intel Research. While at Intel, he was one of the initial researchers developing the Xen hypervisor in collaboration with academics at Cambridge University. If anyone had the hands-on experience needed to explain this side of the industry, Rolf seemed like the logical choice.
InfoWorld: Can you explain why there is a need for network I/O virtualization and why you think enterprises should care about the technology?
Rolf Neugebauer: As companies grow their IT infrastructure also grows, leading to an increase in the number of stand-alone servers, storage devices, and applications. Unmanaged, this growth can lead to enormous inefficiency, higher expense, availability issues, and systems management headaches that negatively impact the company's core business. To address these challenges, organizations are implementing a variety of virtualization solutions for servers, storage, applications, and client environments. These virtualization solutions can deliver real business value through practical benefits, such as decreased IT costs and business risks; increased efficiency, utilization, and flexibility; streamlined management; and enhanced business resilience and agility.
With rising network traffic and the need for application awareness, content inspection, and security processing, the amount of network I/O processing increases exponentially. This increase in network processing, coupled with the need for virtualization, places a huge burden on the network I/O subsystem; [it's] an increasing challenge in the datacenter which negatively impacts overall system performance.
InfoWorld: How then does intelligent network I/O virtualization help?