December 22, 2009
Have you heard of Rack Area Networking? I hadn't, until last week or so. According to Nigel Poulton, it's the newest craze sweeping the server rooms of the rich and famous. Or at least the rich and willing to spend money on hardware.
I'm not entirely sure that I've nailed it down just yet, but it sounds like the increased virtualization of, well, pretty much everything, from servers (old hat now) to host bus adaptors (HBAs), to the kitchen sink. And according to Nigel's blog entry, the emphasis is on the cleverness of it all.
Call me old fashioned, but I get sort of a twitch discussing clever like it's a good thing. Of course, I could be taking the term clever completely out of context. Some of the technology does sound pretty neat, and Nigel has written another entry since the original devoted to I/O Virtualization, and it features some cutting edge graphics. Go check it out, there's some serious hardware virtualization going on behind those crayon drawings.
I have no doubt that we small infrastructure admins are not going to have to deal with anything like this in the next year. Heck, I know a lot of shops that are just now getting their feet wet with normal server virtualization, and there's nothing wrong with that at all. It's a solution that fits a set of problems, and if you're not updating your current infrastructure, you probably won't jump out and implement it. But you should keep your eye on it.
And with these new technologies, 2010 should be interesting. Tech seems to have a trickle-down effect, and it's probably not going to be all that long before some of the software that we run starts to support that, and once that happens, people like Dell and HP are going to start shipping servers with watered down versions of this hardware, and eventually we'll need to deal with converged adapters, too.
At least, if we want to.