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Virtualization: Article

Virtualization and the Other Green Computing Initiative

Reducing power consumption and management expenses

The Impact of Consolidation
Consolidation has been an “initiative” in IT for many years, and it generally revolves around the consolidation of the data center in terms of the number of servers deployed to support mission-critical applications. While reducing the number of servers in the data center, and thus rack density, both power consumption and heat generation can be positively affected.

Yet capacity needs must be balanced with consolidation efforts and, at some point, consolidation is no longer possible. As the volume of users and application usage grows, so must the number of servers – and devices such as application delivery controllers – necessary to scale mission-critical applications.

Striking a balance between scalability and controlling costs is difficult, and thus far it has been nearly impossible to avoid the deployment of additional application delivery controllers as a mechanism for scaling out a data center. Whether chassis or appliance-based, these devices have only added to the cost of power consumption and increased the generation of heat within the data center, raising operational costs.

Solving this problem requires effort on the part of the application delivery controller vendor to reduce the power consumption and BTU generation of devices while simultaneously providing a way to scale without increasing the number of devices required for deployment within the data center. A single, chassis-based application delivery controller requiring less power and generating fewer BTUs that also scales via a virtualized bladed architecture can address the growing need for capacity without adversely impacting IT’s bottom line or the environment.

The Impact of Virtualization
By architecting a new breed of chassis-based application delivery controllers that take advantage of virtualization not only at the server level but at the chassis and blade level, these new devices can provide better performance in a single unit than could previously be obtained with multiple appliance-based solutions or legacy chassis-models.

By virtualizing blades and CPUs, essentially creating a single, powerful processing matrix, this new breed of chassis-based application delivery controller can scale nearly linearly. This internal processing scalability means that every last drop of processing power is being used and can provide a much higher capacity than its legacy ancestors. By more efficiently using the processing power available, the performance per power unit is increased, making each transaction processed by the application delivery controller cost a fraction in terms of power consumption than would otherwise be possible.

Table 1: Comparison of performance per watt for legacy and new chassis model application delivery controllers

Consider the comparison in Table 1. Regardless of the cost per kilowatt hour, there is a significant savings in terms of power when moving from the legacy chassis-model to a new, virtualized chassis-model. This has a significant positive impact on the environment as well as on the organizational budget. Given the higher performance capacity of the new chassis model, fewer devices are necessary to meet the growing traffic management and application delivery needs of today’s IT organizations, which lowers the cost of operations as well as management.

The management costs of such a new breed of application delivery controller are inherently lower than a traditional application delivery solution, owing to its virtualized architecture and the ability for the device – and IT manager – to manage the system as a single entity rather than as individual blades in a larger system. This reduces the amount of management necessary, and in turn reduces the costs associated with managing the device. This is especially true as capacity is added, as it would require multiple legacy chassis-based devices to match the processing power of a single virtualized chassis-based system. Each added device must be managed, and adds to the amount of power consumed and BTUs generated, making it much more expensive to scale.

Also having an impact are the BTUs generated by each device. There is a definitive cost associated with removing the heat generated by these devices in the form of cooling, so the lower BTU generation of the new breed of chassis-based solution is a definite boon both on the environment as well as on the budget.

It’s rare that an environmentally friendly movement such as Green IT results in reducing costs, especially in its early stages. And yet in the case of this new breed of chassis-based application delivery controllers, that is the result. With decreased management and power consumption costs and increased performance, these new application delivery controllers are both green as in grass and green as in cash.

More Stories By Lori MacVittie

Lori MacVittie is responsible for education and evangelism of application services available across F5’s entire product suite. Her role includes authorship of technical materials and participation in a number of community-based forums and industry standards organizations, among other efforts. MacVittie has extensive programming experience as an application architect, as well as network and systems development and administration expertise. Prior to joining F5, MacVittie was an award-winning Senior Technology Editor at Network Computing Magazine, where she conducted product research and evaluation focused on integration with application and network architectures, and authored articles on a variety of topics aimed at IT professionals. Her most recent area of focus included SOA-related products and architectures. She holds a B.S. in Information and Computing Science from the University of Wisconsin at Green Bay, and an M.S. in Computer Science from Nova Southeastern University.

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