The earth is flat. Men can't fly. Chewing gum takes 7 years to travel the digestive track.
The point of these, and many other bad examples of 'conventional wisdom' is that far too often we accept what seems to be reasonable advice or thinking. Usually because:
1. We've heard it our whole lives
2. Everyone else thinks the same thing or does it the same way
3. It kind of makes sense
If there's one thing our blade engineers are great at, it's challenging conventional wisdom. Their latest challenge: why do server to network connections have to be one-to-one and why is the speed of each connection fixed? They said, "Today's network model costs too much, burns too much power and is completely inflexible."
For example, if you want to add a network port on a blade server, you need a NIC, a switch and a cable. Want 8 network ports per server? Multiply by 8. If the network is 1 or 10Gb/s, guess what? All your connections are 1 or 10Gb/s too! Nothing in between. For a variety of reasons, Cisco and others have perpetuated this process for years.
Enter the age of the virtual server.
The requirements of virtual servers have already had a dramatic impact on the fundmentals of servers and storage design. More cores, more memory, more capacity. But one area untouched until now has been the network layer. Sure, VMware has 'virtual NICs' and 'virtual switches', but it's done via software and doesn't do anything to address the underlying issues: you still need a lot of physical NICs, switches, and more bandwidth.
Here's what our team came up with, divide the total capacity of one 10Gb pipe into 4 server ports, then add the ability to fine-tune the bandwidth of each port, so you can give more or less performance to different virtual machines. The end result is 66% less cost in network equipment from a 4 to 1 consolidation of switches, 65% less power used and great performance from 10Gb speeds built-in.
Today, the virtualization discussion is about virtual servers and storage. In 2009, virtual I/O and virtual networks are the new frontiers for huge innovation and as a result; another round of consolidation and cost savings in the data center.