VMware one-ups Amazon for Windows desktops as a service

VMware one-ups Amazon for Windows desktops as a service

As a company that draws more than 2 billion eyeballs per month, Facebook was a fitting harbinger of trends to come at an optical networking conference.

The social networking goliath is lighting up its own optical fiber, deploying 100Gbps links in its data centers and looking towards emerging silicon photonics technology, Facebook Director of Technical Operations Najam Ahmad said on Monday at an Optical Society of America meeting held alongside the annual OFC (Optical Fiber Communications) Conference in San Francisco.

Facebook's challenges mirror those of other enterprises and data center operators, with fast-growing data traffic and rapidly evolving network needs, but with 1.2 billion active monthly users, it's facing those issues sooner than some. Though his company is unique in some ways, Ahmad's comments in an on-stage interview may shed some light on the future of connectivity.

The biggest traffic at Facebook isn't in and out of its data centers but among the servers within them, Ahmad said. That's because every time a user logs in to the site, hundreds or thousands of servers are called into action to compute different parts of that customer's News Feed on the fly. This so-called "east-west" traffic is also growing faster as apps on Facebook grow more complex and user interactions become richer, he said.

So while many enterprises are deploying 10-Gigabit Ethernet today, that's already the minimum at Facebook.

"We haven't deployed anything less than a 10-Gig for about two years now," Ahmad said. Those are the links to servers themselves, and upstream from that, Facebook is using 40-Gigabit Ethernet and a few 100-Gigabit links. It's mostly on 40-Gigabit now because 100-Gigabit is still too expensive, he said. But within a year or two, Ahmad expects the company's fast pipes to become predominantly 100-Gigabit.

Facebook's computing needs are growing so quickly that the company no longer builds just one data center at a time, Ahmad said.

"Now what we do is we buy land, we build one building, and then a second, a third, and a fourth," he said. "All of a sudden, what we've done is build a campus. So our optical needs change slightly."

To link, say, four data centers spread across a campus of 10 to 20 acres, Ahmad would like to have a fiber technology that can span one or two kilometers and carry 100Mbps to start, then 200Mbps and 400Mbps as traffic grows over time. For that, he envisions connections using single-mode fiber rather than the multimode fiber most commonly used in data centers today, which has a shorter range.

Such a system is likely to use silicon photonics, an emerging technology that applies the world's most common semiconductor material to optical connectivity, Ahmad said. Facebook is also exploring silicon photonics because it wants to use so-called rack-level computing, in which computing, storage and memory are concentrated in separate racks and connected at high speed to form the equivalent of many servers. PCIe is another option for this, he added.

- See more at: http://www.itnews.com/social-networking/75907/facebook-walks-optical-networkings-wild-side#sthash.DC24ImBZ.dpuf

As a company that draws more than 2 billion eyeballs per month, Facebook was a fitting harbinger of trends to come at an optical networking conference.

The social networking goliath is lighting up its own optical fiber, deploying 100Gbps links in its data centers and looking towards emerging silicon photonics technology, Facebook Director of Technical Operations Najam Ahmad said on Monday at an Optical Society of America meeting held alongside the annual OFC (Optical Fiber Communications) Conference in San Francisco.

Facebook's challenges mirror those of other enterprises and data center operators, with fast-growing data traffic and rapidly evolving network needs, but with 1.2 billion active monthly users, it's facing those issues sooner than some. Though his company is unique in some ways, Ahmad's comments in an on-stage interview may shed some light on the future of connectivity.

The biggest traffic at Facebook isn't in and out of its data centers but among the servers within them, Ahmad said. That's because every time a user logs in to the site, hundreds or thousands of servers are called into action to compute different parts of that customer's News Feed on the fly. This so-called "east-west" traffic is also growing faster as apps on Facebook grow more complex and user interactions become richer, he said.

So while many enterprises are deploying 10-Gigabit Ethernet today, that's already the minimum at Facebook.

"We haven't deployed anything less than a 10-Gig for about two years now," Ahmad said. Those are the links to servers themselves, and upstream from that, Facebook is using 40-Gigabit Ethernet and a few 100-Gigabit links. It's mostly on 40-Gigabit now because 100-Gigabit is still too expensive, he said. But within a year or two, Ahmad expects the company's fast pipes to become predominantly 100-Gigabit.

Facebook's computing needs are growing so quickly that the company no longer builds just one data center at a time, Ahmad said.

"Now what we do is we buy land, we build one building, and then a second, a third, and a fourth," he said. "All of a sudden, what we've done is build a campus. So our optical needs change slightly."

To link, say, four data centers spread across a campus of 10 to 20 acres, Ahmad would like to have a fiber technology that can span one or two kilometers and carry 100Mbps to start, then 200Mbps and 400Mbps as traffic grows over time. For that, he envisions connections using single-mode fiber rather than the multimode fiber most commonly used in data centers today, which has a shorter range.

Such a system is likely to use silicon photonics, an emerging technology that applies the world's most common semiconductor material to optical connectivity, Ahmad said. Facebook is also exploring silicon photonics because it wants to use so-called rack-level computing, in which computing, storage and memory are concentrated in separate racks and connected at high speed to form the equivalent of many servers. PCIe is another option for this, he added.

- See more at: http://www.itnews.com/social-networking/75907/facebook-walks-optical-networkings-wild-side#sthash.DC24ImBZ.dpuf

 

VMware one-ups Amazon for Windows desktops as a service

If VMware teaming up with Google to deliver Windows desktops to Chromebooks via VMware Horizon View didn't hammer the final nails into conventional desktop's coffin, VMware has driven in a few more with VMware Horizon DaaS, a new desktop-as-a-service platform that can be delivered either from a conventional public cloud or the private variety.

VMware Horizon DaaS systems can work with a native iOS or Android client, or a late-model HTML5 client -- such as a Web browser or a Chromebook -- and include provisions for USB and multimedia direction. Each virtual machine is provisioned with one CPU, 2GB of RAM, 30GB of storage, and 20 IOPS, and it can run any of a slew of Windows OSes: Windows XP, Windows 7, 64-bit Windows 8, Windows Server 2008 R2, or Windows Server 2012.

Another version of the product, VMware Horizon DaaS Platform (previously known as Desktone, joining the product roster by way of an outside acquisition) packages VMware Horizon DaaS as a software stack that service providers, rather than enterprises, can deploy for their customers.

A major bragging point for VMware, the Horizon DaaS can be delivered either as a purely cloud product through a service provider, mainly VMware's partners for its hybrid solutions, or as an on-premises product in one's private or hybrid cloud by way of VMware Horizon View. The latter option is recommended for those who want the kind of fine-grained control and minimal latency that comes with having a local deployment; the former is the most convenient scenario. The two can be mixed and matched as needed.

The cost for the service is a flat $35 per user per month, with no need to have an existing VMware software license. Unfortunately, there's no discount if you're an existing VMware user.

It's clear from one glance at the VMware Horizon DaaS feature set that one of VMware's more visible targets with this offering is Amazon. Amazon's WorkSpaces delivers a similar proposition: Windows 7 systems on demand from the cloud, with a bit more variety of machine types than VMware Horizon DaaS, as well as better options overall in terms of CPU, memory, and storages. WorkSpaces is offered at the same price: $35 per month per user.

But VMware has dismissed WorkSpaces before as being less of a value. For one (VMware has claimed), Amazon's product didn't really deliver Windows 7 desktops, but rather a reskinned version of a recent edition of Windows Server. This, says, VMware, could cause compatibility problems with some software programs. Private cloud deployment also isn't available; it's Amazon's cloud or nothing.

It's likely to remain that way, given Amazon's general reluctance to embrace private or hybrid clouds. Why do so when its cloud is still top dog? But it's less clear that Amazon can deliver some of the more fine-grained cloud-based products coming into demand -- not just virtual desktops, but other applications that might benefit from hybrid deployments as well. In that respect, VMware continues to have an edge.


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