An OpenStack cloud has a lot of virtual features. Almost every piece of hardware has been virtualized and this makes me think that a cloud is a very "soft" system.
Hubs, switches, routers, interfaces/ports, line cards, gateways, servers, firewalls, wires/cables/bus, motherboards, keyboard, mouse, memory/RAM, processor/CPU, hard drive/ROM, PCI slots, power switches -- All of these have a virtualized version in an OpenStack cloud! They are no longer things that we un-box and install. They are all virtual, software-based, Pythonic Linux processes!
Luckily, they have not virtualized CPU heatsinks, headphones, LCD projectors, power source, antennas, server chassis, laptop cases, web cameras and DVD/Blu-ray players yet!
As much as companies in the fields of software, networking, cloud, SDN, NFV and telecom are trying very hard to virtualize everything, I see that there is also an equal effort to use great hardware to replace virtualization in the cloud industry.
In today's cloud and data center industry, there is clearly a great amount of competition between software and hardware, between virtualization and bare metal. "Bare metal" are the buzzwords and they have become very famous cloud jargons. No more "bare" software!
Below are a few relevant diagrams.
"It is virtually impossible to virtualize everything". Right ? There is clearly a war between virtualization and bare metal. We all know who wins when there is a war between software and hardware.
Below are the different bare metal technologies that replace virtualized features in an OpenStack cloud. The advantages of bare metal technologies over virtualized features are:
Very high scalability
Large number of parallel processes
Very high processing speed
100% Dedicated resources (CPU, memory, cache, hard disk, networking ports)
OpenStack Ironic provisions a bare metal physical server that replaces a virtual machine.
SR-IOV (supported by Intel and Mellanox cards) and Cisco's VM-FEX extend a physical network adapter directly to a virtual machine bypassing the layer-2 virtual switch (Open vSwitch or Linux Bridge).
Cisco's ASR 1000 Series Router (ASR1K) plugin can be used to do layer-3 forwarding in OpenStack Neutron and replace Neutron's virtual router (that uses neutron-L3-agent and NAT software) with Cisco's ASR1k.
Cisco's CPNR (Cisco Prime Network Registrar) plugin can be used with Neutron to replace dnsmasq (virtual DHCP and DNS server in Neutron) with a highly-scalable physical DHCP and DNS enterprise server. The CPNR Neutron plugin has been open-sourced by Cisco on GitHub.
Neutron's provider networks can be used to do layer-2 switching and layer-3 forwarding on a physical switch and a physical router respectively, and thereby bypassing Neutron's virtual gateway, virtual router and the virtual layer-2 switch.
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