Technical vocabulary keeps us on our toes and we find ourselves immersed in specialized words that didn't exist even a few years ago. We owe as much of this to advertising (supersize) as we do to subcultures (spyware) and to the morphing of existing words to fit the computerized norm-an example of the last is "virtualization."
The term "virtual" means "being so in effect" which has a connotation of not really being so: "I have virtually finished my homework" but also for all practical purposes: "we are virtually at a standstill."
It is the latter meaning that takes hold in computer science as well as in networking: virtual reality, storage, machine, system-all intended to imply that for all practical purposes, these are real entities. And there is a further implication that the virtual version of things is better than the original-typically because it uses fewer resources, optimizes existing resources, and in general simplifies the tasks performed by the virtualized environment.
In data centers, the pooling of server resources, including processors, network access devices, storage I/O, and memory-have led to demonstrable cost savings. This trend will undoubtedly continue-just follow the money, and it's very easy to see the cost savings simply in the purchase of less hardware to optimally run your applications.
Naturally, this results in power savings as well-an increasingly important component of operating expenses in every corner of the IT world.
Juniper has taken this same principle into the networking environment with software logical routing and then later with the JCS 1200. The ability to simply add to the forwarding and control planes on an "as needed" basis is unique in the industry and allows providers to share resources while building virtualized routing nodes that use a fraction of the energy (power and cooling resources) it would take to build separate networks. Based on our calculations, we estimate this can reduce power consumption by more than 25%, while still delivering twice the capacity of other solutions.
The term "virtual" stems from the Latin virtus, or virtue. If one of the happy side effects of virtualization is the saving of energy resources from the network core to the data center, then maybe that's another angle from which to view the virtualization movement.
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