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Let’s face it—energy is expensive, and clouds are getting awfully big. No one wants to run 10,000 servers when they can run 8,000 servers and earn the same revenue. That’s why service providers commonly consolidate VMs to increase server utilization and reduce operational costs. But VM placement decisions are rarely simple. And for as-a-service providers, the issue can be extremely complex.

Before moving a customer’s VM for the purpose of server consolidation, a service provider must consider the terms of the contract. Customers might be concerned about sharing physical server space with a competitor, or might not want to share a server under any circumstances. Or they might have an SLA that requires servers to have specified levels of spare capacity. So how does one reconcile the desire to reduce energy costs via server consolidation with customer requirements?

Traditionally, policies have been employed to manage the requirements of VM placement. But service providers are now finding that existing policy frameworks are falling short due to the large and dynamic requirements of cloud environments. Add the latest challenge of rapidly proliferating NFV devices, and the policy management reality scale tips with requirements to express policies with a multitude of additional requirements, such as energy usage constraints.

Automating constraint-based VM placement

Fortunately, the trend toward software-driven, programmable networks is enabling new levels of automation, and that automation is now being enhanced with policy frameworks.

Policy frameworks now under development by the OpenStack Congress project and the OpenDaylight Network Intent Composition (NIC) project will enable the automation of policy enforcement and the development of solutions to better manage resources. Those solutions include server energy consumption through VM consolidation under the constraints of policies that target overall data center energy conservation.

Brocade is fully committed to software-driven, standards-based solutions that allow network administrators to take full advantage of automation. Products such as the Brocade 5600 vRouter and Brocade SDN Controller, a quality-assured edition of the OpenDaylight controller, demonstrate Brocade’s commitment and leadership in this area.

Constraint-based VM placement is a powerful and practical example of the potential of the combination of policy-base resource optimization and software-driven networks for which Brocade will continue developing network infrastructure products.