December 07, 2010, 8:55 PM — The industry reached a "virtual" tipping point in 2009 when, according to IDC, the number of newly installed virtual machines surpassed the number of newly installed physical servers. This inflection point is having a profound impact on how we manage, secure and provision IT resources. No doubt the network will look completely different in just a few years too, but here are five predictions for how virtualization will change networking in 2011.
1. VLAN technology runs out of steam in the cloud and "L2 is sexy" again.
Today's Layer 2 networking technology was designed for a static environment that proved suitable for several decades. But in the cloud era, rapid provisioning of L2 environments based on fast changing business requirements is so critical that existing Ethernet and VLAN technology cannot keep up any more.
Existing L2 technology, for example, was optimized for a flat name space and multi-tenancy was never a design goal. In the cloud, however, multi-tenancy is a key requirement. What's more, a single logical L2 network in the cloud era may need to span several data centers and sometimes different cloud providers.
Furthermore, there can be hundreds of thousands of tenants within just one public cloud and clearly the maximum of 4,095 VLANs is not nearly enough.
The bottom line for 2011: on-demand, scalable, flexible, fungible, and multi-tenancy L2 network technology is needed as the fundamental building block for public and private cloud.
2. Convergence aftermath: territory redefined
By now, all major server OEMs own a network switch business and all the network switch companies have a solid road map for the virtual realm. But convergence needs to have a profound impact on enterprise organizational structures too. For example, for years server admins have owned the server and the network admins owned the physical switch gear. But does it make sense to draw such a line in the sand moving forward?
After all, a number of virtual/physical switch integration products with seamless management tools have emerged. The Nexus 1000V is one example, but many other virtual switch integration solutions are available as well.
The virtual switches can be owned by network admins, but we also see server admins managing some layers of virtual or physical switches thanks to recent software advancements in data center automation.
Software should and will automate away many repetitive single workload deployment network provisioning jobs, however network expertise and teams are still needed in the data center.