Real Dinner, Virtual Topic
XenSource gets in some licks at VMware, Cisco clarifies virtualization strategy and the dinner table talk turns to power-efficient data centers and server monitoring at an industry get-together.
I attended the annual N-Square (Networking/Networking) dinner on Tuesday, March 6, in Palo Alto, run by Internet Research Group (John Katsaros, Peter Christy) and sponsored this year by Cisco. I've been a longtime reader of their always interesting newsletter. (I first came across Peter at Inbox a couple of years ago.) The dinner topic was "Virtualization and Its Impact on Infrastructure." Inexplicably, the guy from VMware left before the dinner discussion. However, XenSource gave a rousing "VMware is great if'...you love giving money to EMC, proprietary solutions, associating with a foe of Microsoft" speech. The Cisco rep disagreed with parts of Peter Christy's introductory comments that described Cisco's virtualization of network infrastructure. Instead, the Cisco guy, while embracing aspects of virtualization, insisted (I think correctly) that there are a great many aspects of networking that require silicone to accelerate, sort, filter and process IP packets that can't be done as fast in a virtualized environment. One of my dinner companions was a data center broker. I asked him if he was seeing interest in "green" data centers and he said no. HOWEVER, when a venture fund representative sitting at the table mentioned some work being done on improving server power supply efficiency by just 2 percent, the data center guy was keenly interested. So, I took the data center guy's initial response as a knee-jerk reaction to environmentalism. The data center guy was especially hot on APC cabinet cooling technology. He also talked at length about the shortage of data center space in the NYC area, limited by power and cable capacity. He talked A LOT about putting data centers next to power plants and the problems power plants are having with carbon emissions. Another companion was a network engineer from a global Internet platform provider. I asked him about the technical problems that he sees. Although it depends a great deal on the customer, he got around to talking about network management problems when managing 25,000 servers spread across 3,000 locations. (Most data centers concentrate that number of servers in possibly two or three locations). I talked with him about Splunk, which he had never heard of, and he recommended that I look at Tealeaf. To be clear, the products are actually quite different. Splunk is an IT information search tool, whereas Tealeaf is an end-user experience management system, so they don't technically look at the same information.