Virtualization--it’s actually not so new. Since the 1960s, the computing concept has been in use and has been defined as:
“The art and science of making the function of an object or resource simulated or emulated in software identical to that of the corresponding physically realized object. In other words, we use an abstraction to make software look and behave like hardware, with corresponding benefits in flexibility, cost, scalability, reliability, and often overall capability and performance, and in a broad range of applications. Virtualization, then, makes “real” that which is not, applying the flexibility and convenience of software-based capabilities and services as a transparent substitute for the same realized in hardware.”
Virtualization is Buzzing Around the Cloud Edge
At the last VMworld, one of the main topics revolved around platform and application virtualization at the edge of the cloud. To contextualize the subject, it was noted that as virtualization occurs at the edge, it will find its first use cases within industrial Internet of Things (IoT).
The vantage point was unsurprising as most IoT and computing power conversations begin with industrial applications. In this instance, virtualization allows smart edge devices like a robot used for manufacturing to run virtual machines and containers to manage artificial intelligence (AI) applications, data collection and ingestion, signal processing, and more. By moving the computing power closer to the edge by implanting it within the industrial robot, it is used more efficiently and streamlines IT processes. This includes: monitoring, diagnostics, troubleshooting, and other management needed for the intelligent systems so that the devices can handle dynamic workloads.
Edge Devices with Limited Computational Capabilities
Despite the consistent message of industrial IoT, the devices often have limited computational and storage capabilities. Expecting complex edge processing tasks on hardware that has less processing, memory, and storage than typical server machines means that it’s not always possible to deploy processing at the edge. Instead, we see the entrance of virtualization technologies so that the hardware resources can be decoupled from the software for better performance.
Good for IT, Bad for Business?
As business leaders when we hear of these technological improvements, we think, “great, but now what...and, what’s the catch?”
Virtualizing the public cloud, up the application stack, and out of the multicloud’s growing edge will undoubtedly have an impact and work as a catalyst for IoT deployments. But, there isn’t a clear path on the implementation and costs of these new technologies.
Companies that are interested in the technologies, but don’t have the internal expertise on how to plan and deploy these uncharted environments will find themselves asking: What should we do with the edge? How can we use IoT? How will this differ from our centralized data center? How secure and predictable will the onboarding, monitoring, and service provisioning be?
The bigger problem is that some companies will begin cloud, edge, and virtualization projects only to find themselves in the middle and realize that their licensing costs are quadrupaling because they did not forecast properly on a per-user or usage basis. So what “technically” sounds good, actually ends up being bad for budgets--and business.
Even Still, Don’t Dismiss Virtualization
It can be easy to dismiss virtualization of the edge when you don’t have a clear use case, but don’t be too hasty. Virtualization technology will play a key role as we move towards the edge by ensuring that multiple devices can be elastically and adaptively combined to seamlessly handle (in real time) workloads and cloud-to-edge infrastructure efficiency.
At Edgeworx, we understand that each company and its technical landscape can vary widely. That’s why we partner with leading technology vendors and blend together their unique set of capabilities to actualize real benefits of today’s buzzwords. If you’re interested in adopting a full cloud-to-edge strategy, learn how we can help by visiting our services page!