RFID for Virtual Machines without the Soviet Spy Origins

By Anon Anon posted 08-25-2016 10:49 AM



RFID (aka Radio Frequency Identification) technology which uses electromagnetic fields to automatically identify and track objects has revolutionized warehouses, super stores and the California Toll roads. Interestingly the technology ties its origins to passive sound modulating technologies invented for spy work by the Soviet Union (1). Some of that legacy has stuck, privacy enthusiasts call RFID as “spychip”.


A similar revolution is underway for the enterprise datacenter in which the sprawl of Virtual Machines (VMs) and the obscurity created by hypervisors has made monitoring, troubleshooting and SLA enforcement for VMs nearly impossible. A joint effort between QLogic and Brocade and other industry leaders, this technology is called VMID (Virtual Machine Identification) – has all the characteristics of RFID without any of the spy origins. 


                                                                                                                                          Image Source: http://www.digitact.co.uk/


Of all the benefits of Servers Virtualization we all can recite verbatim, there are trade-offs - more specifically with things that relate to how data traffic (I/O) from Virtual Machines is managed. Virtualization consolidates I/O from all VMs on to a single physical I/O pipe and masks flow visibility. The Storage Area Network can no longer identify which VMs traffic it is handling nor can it deliver to the SAN admin the visibility into per VMs stats or the ability to apply QoS policies at a VM level granularity. 


With the objective to bring in-depth visibility of a VM within the fabric and endpoints, VMID uses standards-based VM tagging to enable monitoring of VM-level application performance issues in a Gen 6 Fibre Channel SAN. The hypervisor like VMware ESX in conjunction with the Brocade Gen 6 switch provides the globally unique ID for each VM to the QLogic Enhanced Gen 5 and Gen 6 Fibre Channel HBAs (2) which then tags each Fibre Channel I/O frame with the originating VMs ID. Fabric built using the Brocade Gen 6 switches deliver the ability to read the VMs ID imprinted in each frame and apply various inbuilt intelligent monitoring and potential to apply QoS policies to each VMs traffic. Brocade refers to this technology as VM Insight, which is part of its Fabric Vision technology.


VMID/VM Insight technology delivers unprecedented visibility into how the I/O for each VM flows through the fabric and the ability to deliver application level services to virtual workloads in a QLogic and Brocade Fibre Channel infrastructure.


QLogic and Brocade are showcasing this technology for the first time at VMworld 2016 booth 935 in Las Vegas, NV. Come check it out and see how it can transform your SAN into a VM aware SAN.