MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — Google described Andromeda, its latest effort to turn its massive data centers into virtual cloud computing systems customers can create and use on the fly. The company also called for smarter switch silicon to help optimize its efforts.
"The future of cloud computing is about delivering new capabilities we can't deliver now, not delivering old capabilities cheaper," Amin Vahdat, a distinguished engineer at Google, said in a keynote at the Hot Interconnects conference here. "The network is the fundamental barrier to delivering new features."
Andromeda is Google's current effort to overcome those barriers. It is essentially a central network controller and protocol, running on servers, that creates virtual systems of computers, networking, and storage as needed.
Google's internal programmers have been able to request such virtual systems for some time. Now the company is "setting out to support external users with Andromeda, giving them the illusion of running their own networks with different address spaces and dedicated performance."
Andromeda gives users a software switch running in a hypervisor connecting virtual machines. It allows control of physical network-interface cards "to get packets on and off the wire [in ways that] makes it look like a dedicated network," he said.
Google wants to define an open API for Andromeda. It will let external developers and cloud-computing customers implement their own virtual network functions on top of Andromeda.
The Andromeda protocol links to servers, switches, and storage to create flexible virtual systems.
Google faces two top challenges in providing this kind of flexibility to configure and operate virtual networks on its data centers. The virtual networks need to have performance as close as possible to the underlying physical systems, and the virtualization features need to be easy to manage.
"Most customers say the operational overhead of running on an external cloud is as bad as using an internal cloud," Vahdat said. "This is something we haven't conquered yet."
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