Welcome!

Related Topics: Containers Expo Blog, Java IoT, Linux Containers, @CloudExpo, SDN Journal, @ThingsExpo

Containers Expo Blog: Blog Feed Post

Network Virtualization: Instances versus Tenants

Technology shifts are creating a lot of chaos, including the way we use words

Technology shifts are creating a lot of chaos, including the way we use words. Cloud. SDN. Multi-tenant. Instances. They're all inter-related and seem to have different meanings depending on who's trying to sell you what today.

That's more than a tad bit disconcerting, because you know what you mean when you say "multi-tenant" but other people (trying to sell you stuff) may have a different definition. And that means when you ask about it and they say yes, you may not be getting what you expected - and that's not good for either end of the transaction.

So let's talk network virtualization today, particularly with respect to the difference between "instances" and "tenants."

Instance
An instance, made a common part of technology's growing vernacular, stems from the need to separate the physical from the virtual, a la server virtualization. Because "server" is used to describe about fifty different things - all in the realm of technology - it became necessary to distinguish between an application "server" and an application "instance" to avoid confusion. Thus, an instance is often shorthand for virtual machine or virtual instance and essentially describes a container of functionality.

For example, if I refer to an "instance" of BIG-IP I mean a virtual machine in which the BIG-IP platform is running. Note that this says nothing about the underlying hardware, which could be COTS or cloud or purpose-built hardware. That's because one of the characteristics of virtualization is abstraction, and its benefits are generally derived from the fact that it decouples the "solution" from the underlying resource provider (the hardware).

Now, that's an instance. Confusion generally comes in when we start adding multi-tenancy to the discussion which, of course, is a requirement for modern architectures and deployment environments.

Multi-tenancy
The basic principles of multi-tenancy are similar to that of an apartment complex. Multiple tenants, all with their own isolated "living space" cohabitate within the same physical space. This enables the tenants to share the cost of the infrastructure (the physical structure) and thus lower the overall costs of living.

In technological terms, the same concept applies. We want to allow multiple tenants (applications) to share the cost of the infrastructure and thus lower the overcall costs of delivery (all the services you have to have to make sure the application is secure, reliable and available).

Multi-tenancy in infrastructure enables multiple tenants to cohabitate while being assured they can manage their own space in an isolated, secure fashion. The way this is achieved is to segment each instance into isolated domains, usually on a per-application basis.

Depending on specific architectural, regulatory or business requirements, a single instance can be treated as equal to a single tenant. But more often than not a single instance is segmented into multiple tenant domains to enable greater sharing of costs.

tenancy-versus-instances

The end result should be the more tenants, the lower the costs*.

The reason this is important is because applications require greater diversity in network policies with respect to performance, availability and access. The days of applying the same set of network policies to web application A and B are pretty much over. The coming of the Internet of Things is going to force highly differentiated policies to be put in place on a per-application basis. That means that infrastructure needs to provide multi-tenant instances able to go far beyond the simple "tenant = instance" assumption that is frequently made when discussing network virtualization because the number of applications that will be rising to support new business models and take advantage of opportunities is only going to increase in the next few years.

So be careful with your words as you start to lay the network foundation you're going to need to succeed in the coming years. Make sure you know exactly what the person on the other side of the table means when they say "multi-tenant instance" and make sure it will be able to support the way in which you're going to need to deliver all those new applications.

* Assuming the business model associated can achieve the economies scale required by modern architectures. Many cannot.

More Stories By Lori MacVittie

Lori MacVittie is responsible for education and evangelism of application services available across F5’s entire product suite. Her role includes authorship of technical materials and participation in a number of community-based forums and industry standards organizations, among other efforts. MacVittie has extensive programming experience as an application architect, as well as network and systems development and administration expertise. Prior to joining F5, MacVittie was an award-winning Senior Technology Editor at Network Computing Magazine, where she conducted product research and evaluation focused on integration with application and network architectures, and authored articles on a variety of topics aimed at IT professionals. Her most recent area of focus included SOA-related products and architectures. She holds a B.S. in Information and Computing Science from the University of Wisconsin at Green Bay, and an M.S. in Computer Science from Nova Southeastern University.

Latest Stories
Companies can harness IoT and predictive analytics to sustain business continuity; predict and manage site performance during emergencies; minimize expensive reactive maintenance; and forecast equipment and maintenance budgets and expenditures. Providing cost-effective, uninterrupted service is challenging, particularly for organizations with geographically dispersed operations.
Advances in technology and ubiquitous connectivity have made the utilization of a dispersed workforce more common. Whether that remote team is located across the street or country, management styles/ approaches will have to be adjusted to accommodate this new dynamic. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Sagi Brody, Chief Technology Officer at Webair Internet Development Inc., focused on the challenges of managing remote teams, providing real-world examples that demonstrate what works and what do...
As enterprises work to take advantage of Big Data technologies, they frequently become distracted by product-level decisions. In most new Big Data builds this approach is completely counter-productive: it presupposes tools that may not be a fit for development teams, forces IT to take on the burden of evaluating and maintaining unfamiliar technology, and represents a major up-front expense. In his session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Andrew Warfield, CTO and Co-Founder of Coho Data, will dis...
When building large, cloud-based applications that operate at a high scale, it’s important to maintain a high availability and resilience to failures. In order to do that, you must be tolerant of failures, even in light of failures in other areas of your application. “Fly two mistakes high” is an old adage in the radio control airplane hobby. It means, fly high enough so that if you make a mistake, you can continue flying with room to still make mistakes. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Lee...
The Quantified Economy represents the total global addressable market (TAM) for IoT that, according to a recent IDC report, will grow to an unprecedented $1.3 trillion by 2019. With this the third wave of the Internet-global proliferation of connected devices, appliances and sensors is poised to take off in 2016. In his session at @ThingsExpo, David McLauchlan, CEO and co-founder of Buddy Platform, will discuss how the ability to access and analyze the massive volume of streaming data from mil...
Predictive analytics tools monitor, report, and troubleshoot in order to make proactive decisions about the health, performance, and utilization of storage. Most enterprises combine cloud and on-premise storage, resulting in blended environments of physical, virtual, cloud, and other platforms, which justifies more sophisticated storage analytics. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Peter McCallum, Vice President of Datacenter Solutions at FalconStor, will discuss using predictive analytics to ...
WebSocket is effectively a persistent and fat pipe that is compatible with a standard web infrastructure; a "TCP for the Web." If you think of WebSocket in this light, there are other more hugely interesting applications of WebSocket than just simply sending data to a browser. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Frank Greco, Director of Technology for Kaazing Corporation, will compare other modern web connectivity methods such as HTTP/2, HTTP Streaming, Server-Sent Events and new W3C event APIs ...
Join us at Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo 2016 – June 7-9 at the Javits Center in New York City and November 1-3 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA – and deliver your unique message in a way that is striking and unforgettable by taking advantage of SYS-CON's unmatched high-impact, result-driven event / media packages.
At first adopted by enterprises to consolidate physical servers, virtualization is now widely used in cloud computing to offer elasticity and scalability. On the other hand, Docker has developed a new way to handle Linux containers, inspired by version control software such as Git, which allows you to keep all development versions. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Dominique Rodrigues, the co-founder and CTO of Nanocloud Software, discussed how in order to also handle QEMU / KVM virtual machin...
SYS-CON Events announced today that FalconStor Software® Inc., a 15-year innovator of software-defined storage solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. FalconStor Software®, Inc. (NASDAQ: FALC) is a leading software-defined storage company offering a converged, hardware-agnostic, software-defined storage and data services platform. Its flagship solution FreeStor®, utilizes a horizonta...
Silver Spring Networks, Inc. (NYSE: SSNI) extended its Internet of Things technology platform with performance enhancements to Gen5 – its fifth generation critical infrastructure networking platform. Already delivering nearly 23 million devices on five continents as one of the leading networking providers in the market, Silver Spring announced it is doubling the maximum speed of its Gen5 network to up to 2.4 Mbps, increasing computational performance by 10x, supporting simultaneous mesh communic...
Sensors and effectors of IoT are solving problems in new ways, but small businesses have been slow to join the quantified world. They’ll need information from IoT using applications as varied as the businesses themselves. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Roger Meike, Distinguished Engineer, Director of Technology Innovation at Intuit, showed how IoT manufacturers can use open standards, public APIs and custom apps to enable the Quantified Small Business. He used a Raspberry Pi to connect sensors...
The cloud promises new levels of agility and cost-savings for Big Data, data warehousing and analytics. But it’s challenging to understand all the options – from IaaS and PaaS to newer services like HaaS (Hadoop as a Service) and BDaaS (Big Data as a Service). In her session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Hannah Smalltree, a director at Cazena, will provide an educational overview of emerging “as-a-service” options for Big Data in the cloud. This is critical background for IT and data profes...
Father business cycles and digital consumers are forcing enterprises to respond faster to customer needs and competitive demands. Successful integration of DevOps and Agile development will be key for business success in today’s digital economy. In his session at DevOps Summit, Pradeep Prabhu, Co-Founder & CEO of Cloudmunch, covered the critical practices that enterprises should consider to seamlessly integrate Agile and DevOps processes, barriers to implementing this in the enterprise, and pr...
Eighty percent of a data scientist’s time is spent gathering and cleaning up data, and 80% of all data is unstructured and almost never analyzed. Cognitive computing, in combination with Big Data, is changing the equation by creating data reservoirs and using natural language processing to enable analysis of unstructured data sources. This is impacting every aspect of the analytics profession from how data is mined (and by whom) to how it is delivered. This is not some futuristic vision: it's ha...