Force10 Gets a View
Yesterday, the company trotted out VirtualView, a set of software aimed at helping benchmark and troubleshoot virtualized environments, as well as automatically manage them. (See Force10 Intros VirtualView.)
Of course, operators have to have Force10 switches in order to take advantage of any of this. VirtualView exists only within FTOS, Force10's operating system.
"Virtualization" in this case refers to using servers for different applications at different times. This entails running multiple virtual machines per server, a task that's going to get complicated as the number of virtual machines grows to dozens per server, instead of just four or eight today.
Part of the problem is that the network has to be managed differently when virtualization happens. It's a cultural shift.
"As more people have to work together, there's more that can go wrong," says Steve Garrison, Force10 vice president of marketing.
VirtualView uses the sFlow protocol to peel data from the Force10 switch, passing it off to a central point where the usage patterns can be studied. This can give an operator a better idea of what needs fixing when something's gone wrong with an application.
The network could also make some changes automatically. It might attach more bandwidth to a particular application or virtual machine, or it could change a virtual LAN (VLAN) to include a greater number of servers.
The alternative, of course, is manual reconfiguration. "If Oracle Corp. (Nasdaq: ORCL) needed more power, and we had completely filled the five servers commited to a VLAN, someone would have to go reconfigure those servers and reconfigure that software," Garrison says.
To get the most out of VirtualView, Force10 enlists help from Plixer and InMon -- no, they're not strange elves, but refer to Plixer International Inc. and InMon Corp. -- companies specializing in deriving reports from all that sFlow data.
Future possibilities include using VirtualView's information to spot dormant periods when equipment could be turned off to save power. That capability would probably be done in conjunction with orchestration systems from the likes of Cassatt Corp. or IBM Tivoli , Garrison says.
— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading