This revised excerpt was taken from an article that originally appeared in Virtualization Journal on Nov. 18, 2012.
Intel’s Xeon E5-2600 processor, the Sandy Bridge series, is a perfect fit for applications running virtual machines in a cloud computing environment. Because it of its increased core count, increased I/O count, and expanded memory, the dual-processor architecture lends itself well to the design standard of assigning one virtual machine to one processor core. When applied to the AdvancedTCA framework and single-board computers (SBCs) commonly found in cloud computing infrastructure, Sandy Bridge makes possible the deployment of data-intensive virtual machine cloud solutions to meet the burgeoning needs of today’s telecom industry.
ATCA is a sensible choice for private clouds running virtual machine infrastructure because of its manageability, commonality, variety, and ease of deployment. With Sandy Bridge processors, fewer compute nodes are required to process the same amount of data as previous generations of server platforms, which means more processor capacity can be installed within the same hardware footprint. Network switches with Layer 3 functionality are required to tie all of the components of the private cloud together. The selection of the AdvancedTCA switches needed will depend in a large part on the type of data being processed and the bandwidth required. Some processes, such as deep packet inspection and video streaming, require much more bandwidth to optimize performance than, for example, SMSC messaging.
Bottom view of Intel CPU Core i7 2600K (Sandy_Bridge)
The most critical component of a private cloud network using Sandy Bridge processors to run virtual machine infrastructure is the shared storage system. Since the concept of virtualization is to launch or dissipate an instance as needed at any physical compute node to support instantaneous demand, all of the nodes must have access to the same storage system. In a private cloud environment, this is typically accomplished using a SAN, augmented with cluster file systems.
To connect the storage system to the rest of the network, fibre channel, SAS, and iSCSI are typically chosen, although iSCSI is the least intrusive approach. With link speeds of up to 10 Gbps, iSCSI allows the SAN to be connected to each compute node via ATCA fabric switches. In high throughput environments, linking the nodes using fibre channel or SAS connections will minimize the amount of fabric bandwidth tied up for storage connectivity. Blade-based SANs designed for ATCA installation are now being made by a number of manufacturers, as are NEBS-certified external SANs. As such, carrier-grade private cloud networks have a variety of options available for shared storage.
Carriers are demanding that developers utilize scaling and other techniques to minimize the amount of compute space taken up by their applications. Sandy Bridge processors running virtual machines in a private cloud environment is the perfect solution for this issue, since the designs are scalable, don’t require excess capacity to handle peak load demands, and maximize data processing with less power usage than previous generations of processors and applications.
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