Thats what I see when I look down the aisle of a modern data centre (well ok, I dont really, but its what I imagine). All the real servers are present only in code, sitting within the physical servers you can actually see, in the Matrix of virtualization
This means that if you are the Chosen One (i.e., you have admin rights within your virtualization system), you can make miracles happen. I'm not saying you can fly through the ceiling of the data centre, or put your hands through the walls of a cabinet (or jump in the air, slow motion kicking three people in the head in the process, as tempting as the notion may be!).
No, but you can auto-magically destroy a web server in one location, and have it suddenly appear in another. Or replicate a running Exchange server, before you apply that scary patch!
Now the same is happening to your network appliances, they are vanishing from the racks, only to reappear in a virtual state in the Matrix.
Before too long, the data centre will be back where it started; one great big computer sitting in the middle with a cable (or two for redundancy) connecting it to the outside world (probably not, but somewhere between that point and the myriads of underused servers/appliances that many data centres and server rooms consist of today).
Application server virtualisation has been with us for a while now, and most organisations have at least dabbled with the concept. Its this latest step of virtualising the network infrastructure that will give even more flexibility and control over how you choose to deliver the services your organisation relies upon.
Need a device for a proof of concept, or to test a configuration change? Dont wait days (weeks?) for delivery, or getting someone in the right place with the right skills to install and cable it (and with a console cable, so you can get the basic config in the box). Simply click to provision exactly what you need, where you need it and for as long as you need it.
Riverbed already has vast swathes of our product lines available as Virtual Appliances (and the ones that arent, are adding value to virtualisation projects anyway), ready to deploy at the drop of a hat.
The Matrix is here; can you see the reality, or just the corridor?
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