It is always interesting how an economic downturn drives innovation in IT. It is probably caused by a combination of things; the first is customers looking at alternative ways of reducing costs and the second is that people hold off spending and then make a bigger step when the budget returns. The same is not always true of consumers as the constant rise in the sales of smartphones and tablets show. Where these 2 trends meet is in what many call BYOD or bring your own device which is part of a wider trend of the Consumerization of IT (CoIT). Depending on your point of view this is either a problem to solve or an opportunity to embrace.
What I have observed within Juniper is that since my co-workers have started to use smartphones the volume of mail that appears late at night and at weekends has grown hugely which I guess is symptomatic of always connected easy access. My colleagues @PaulGainham, @nigelatjuniper and @dnogeur have written many times about the opportunities for service providers in the BYOD environment but I want to look at the other end of things (because this is a data centre blog).
BYOD is causing many organisations to look again at VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure) as a way of simplifying the management of desktops but also to be able to deliver applications and services to tablets and other devices. Historically VDI was handicapped by the performance of the infrastructure as the way it works is to effectively create an instance of the remote device in the data centre and then communicates screen information to and from the user device. The challenges were in the performance of the network between the user and the data centre, the fact that the storage was remote to the application on a disk and the performance of the network in the data centre. Add into that any security controls that were required and it became a bit of a suboptimal solution.
Today though we have fast wifi, 3G and 4G networks, gigabit Ethernet, 50Mb broadband so suddenly the access network is running much faster, but what is happening in the data centre? For each user session a VM is kicked off which acts as the computer and so to keep the costs down we need to try and run as many of these VMs on a server as possible. The recent announcement of the Intel Xeon E5-2600 processor will allow vendors to build bigger faster systems. With 8 cores, 16 threads and support for PCI express 3.0 the number of VDI VMs that can be supported is substantial.
This then creates some other issues the first of which is storage. With the I/O speeds that these processors can achieve having your data on a disk across a 4Gb SAN is a huge bottle neck. The current solution is to place solid state disk (SSD) as close to the server as possible and products from companies like Violin Memory reduce the access times and increase the available I/Os per second (IOPS). The load image and other control functions exist on other servers around the data centre and these all need accessing on a regular basis.
This starts to change the shape and dynamics within the data centre as we now need low latency high capacity access to multiple resources and the ability to stand up VMs at almost any location in the system based on how busy the system is. This just will not work in a traditional multi-tier network model. The optimum solution for working with technology like Violin Memory is Juniper Networks QFabric which has been recently tested by Network Test with over 1500 10GbE ports in a single switch delivering sub 5micro second latency.
So in summary BYOD needs VDI which runs better with SSD over FC, iSCSI or FCoE on QFabric. Apart from being a bad hand at Scrabble we learn that the adoption of new desktop technology has an effect through the system. More and more of the issues in the IT infrastructure have their solution in virtualization and to make virtualization work properly and infrastructure of fast servers, solid state storage and QFabric are 3 things needed to make it successful and we have not yet mentioned security.
Personally I think that VDI will go through a huge growth over the next few years and become one of the drivers to expand and update the data centre but what do you think? Let me know.
Also who can make the longest word from BYODVDISSDFCISCSIFCOE?