The new virtualization: The storage and network hypervisor

The demands of managing virtualization call for a more flexible, virtualized network infrastructure. Does the solution lie in storage and network hypervisors?

With the evolution of mass server virtualization, IT teams have found the need to virtualize both network and storage infrastructure to better support dynamic provisioning and virtual machine (VM) migration. While server hypervisors already offer some storage and network virtualization features, they don't necessarily go deep enough. Enter storage and network hypervisors.

In this series of tips, we explain both the storage and network hypervisor, as well as other network virtualization and vSphere networking tools that enable a more flexible architecture and lend themselves to deeper server virtualization management.

Do we need a network hypervisor and full network virtualization?

As wide-scale server virtualization, automated provisioning and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) models become more prominent in the enterprise, traditional networks are struggling to keep up with the demands and complexities these technologies entail. A network hypervisor could be the solution.

Physical components that make up the network, like switches, routers and firewalls, must be virtualized in order to accommodate the growing traffic demands of server virtualization. Once these components are virtualized, engineers must be able to programmatically control the provisioning of these resources by eliminating physical network limitations. While some of these networking capabilities are in the server hypervisor, they aren't specialized enough for these needs, which is where a network hypervisor solution comes in. 

While some vendors like Nicira have developed a network hypervisor solution, others are in the process of releasing similar solutions or software-defined networking (SDN) strategies that will make the network flexible and manageable for IaaS and provisioning.

Read more about the need for a network hypervisor  and network virtualization.

The storage hypervisor: Virtualization is about more than the server

By using server virtualization, your VM storage is already virtualized and your server hypervisor is already performing some kind of storage hypervisor functionality. However, implementing a separate storage hypervisor can make managing wide-scale storage virtualization and the server virtualization environment much easier. With a server virtualization hypervisor and a separate storage hypervisor combined, you'll gain better server virtualization performance and the ability to ensure storage infrastructure quality of service.

Several storage hypervisor options have emerged. In this tip, learn more about storage hypervisor options.

vSphere networking tools: Gaining control of virtualization

When implementing server virtualization with VMware, it is essential for networking teams to learn the complexities of vSphere networking in order to ensure proper implementation and understanding of its functionality.

Important elements and tools of vSphere networking include understanding the management of virtual and distributed switches, port group traffic, VLANs and VMkernel interfaces. In doing this, engineers must learn the ins and outs of vSphere clients and new command-line interface strategies.

Read more on vSphere networking tools and management strategies.

This was first published in May 2012

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