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Five design factors to facilitate efficient router virtualization

To fully extend the Age of Virtualization to routers and networks, telecom service providers need design changes that will make virtual router operations more efficient if they are to surpass parallel-but-separate networks in cost and security.

Ask most equipment vendors whether their routers can take on virtual duties and they'll probably tell you they've been able to do that for years…decades…maybe even since the dawn of routers. Of course there's some truth to that. But there's secure, cost-effective router virtualization, and then there's the kind of virtualization with complex operations costs that, oops, blow any capital equipment savings out of the water.

So what's a service provider to do in the quest for network efficiency and savings? A new day of router virtualization is dawning and in Router virtualization: Developing effective networking strategies, CIMI Corp. President Tom Nolle looks at the five design factors that could make it a secure, cost-effective reality.

  1. Direct support for virtualization within the router operating system.
  2. Explicit partitioning of control plane and forwarding plane processing.
  3. Explicit assignment of port, trunk and other resources to virtual routers/networks.
  4. Expanding virtualization to non-router devices.
  5. Version control in router software.

Virtualization is supposed to help carriers save on operations and hardware costs. If it doesn't, why not continue to maintain independent, parallel networks? The real value in router virtualization depends on the ease of setup and operations, and firm border security that keeps traffic separate.

While we're on the subject of virtualization, check out these virtualization resources:

This was last published in May 2009

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