RAM and CPU are set to burgeon in data center servers of the near future.
First-generation data center x86 server
virtualization took existing hardware and made it more efficient. Organizations
that take the next step-from consolidation to virtual operations-will combine
much bigger virtual machines on increasingly beefy physical host systems.
How big? At the VMworld 2011 conference in the
late summer, VMware ushered in the era of the giant virtual machine that can be
configured with up to 32 virtual CPU cores and 1TB of RAM. As revealed Sept. 14
at the Microsoft BUILD conference, the Windows Server 8 is said to be able to
create virtual machines that also provide up to 32 virtual CPU cores and up to
512GB of RAM. And Microsoft's Hyper-V, as implemented in Windows Server 8,
showed that the newly released developer preview is designed for physical
systems that are equipped with up to 160 logical processors and up to 2TB of
While data center virtual computing is a mix of
CPU, memory, networking and storage, I'm confining myself here to the physical
components "inside the box," CPU and RAM. The bottom line for IT managers is
the return of best-practice concepts honed in the mainframe era but now given a
uniquely x86 twist. Reliability, availability and serviceability in the virtual
data center is expressed in commodity servers that are scaled out, beefed up
and chained together so that a single physical machine or component can fail
without bringing the business to a halt.
What will physical servers look like in just two
or three years? At a Microsoft developer preview workshop at the company's
headquarters earlier this month, officials said that guidance from hardware
OEMs indicated that commodity servers would have between six and 64 logical
cores, 64GB of RAM, a 40Gbit network interface card and cost $300 to $1,500.
VMware user George L. Reed, CIO at Seven
Corners, a travel and specialty insurance provider based in Carmel, Ind.,
shared his thoughts about next-generation data center servers.
"We took 100 physical servers and virtualized
them [in November 2010]," Read explained. "Today, we have about 150
virtual servers running. Working with our systems integration partner, we've
moved onto a Cisco Unified Computing System/VMware vSphere implementation.
"We are looking at adding additional cloud
equipment into the racks that were emptied when we did our initial
virtualization. We are looking at applications that add picture and media and
content. We are building today for a petabyte of data storage and a
commensurate rise in CPU count," Reed said.
Cameron Sturdevant is the executive editor of Enterprise Networking Planet. Prior to ENP, Cameron was technical analyst at PCWeek Labs, starting in 1997. Cameron finished up as the eWEEK Labs Technical Director in 2012. Before his extensive labs tenure Cameron paid his IT dues working in technical support and sales engineering at a software publishing firm . Cameron also spent two years with a database development firm, integrating applications with mainframe legacy programs. Cameron's areas of expertise include virtual and physical IT infrastructure, cloud computing, enterprise networking and mobility. In addition to reviews, Cameron has covered monolithic enterprise management systems throughout their lifecycles, providing the eWEEK reader with all-important history and context. Cameron takes special care in cultivating his IT manager contacts, to ensure that his analysis is grounded in real-world concern. Follow Cameron on Twitter at csturdevant, or reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.