Plenty of vendors will be proclaiming partnerships with VMware this week — it’s VMworld week, after all — but Monday’s announcements from Dell and F5 seem worth spelling out, both for their scope and for the prominence of the two vendors.
Both cases show how VMware is forwarding the general goal of the software-defined data center (SDDC). Of course, VMware gets something out of the partnerships, too, as they’ll theoretically help spread the VMware NSX network virtualization platform. They’ll also bring VMware’s management environment to more data centers — or keep VMware customers from straying to other environments.
Dell’s Prefab Packaging
Dell announced it’s reselling NSX in two forms: with Cumulus Networks software or with Dell’s own converged infrastructure.
The converged infrastructure case is essentially a ready-to-go package of hardware validated to run NSX. It’s akin to the racks sold by VCE (the joint venture of Cisco, VMware, and EMC), which involves a prefab combination of computing, storage, and networking. The difference is that Dell’s racks will include virtualized networking.
Dell is also a partner in the EVO:RAIL architecture that VMware announced Monday, a program that enlists hardware vendors to provide the combined hardware and software for a data center. EVO:RAIL has a wider scope than just NSX, though; it’s meant for delivery of VMware’s server virtualization environments as well.
On the Cumulus side, Dell is offering a combination of its own software and the Cumulus Linux operating system, again all validated to run with an NSX controller.
The two are separate use cases. As you might expect, the Cumulus case is targeted at Linux-expert IT groups. “On the converged infrastructure, you need the more traditional operating systems and CLIs [command-line interfaces], because the midmarket customers expect Dell to put it all together,” says Arpit Joshipura, Dell’s vice president of marketing.
F5 Mixes BIG-IQ and NSX
F5, meanwhile, announced the integration of its BIG-IQ management with NSX. BIG-IQ manages the pools of Layer 4-7 services made available by the physical or virtual instances of the BIG-IP appliance.
That means NSX will be able to connect virtual machines to those services. Put another way, it means a network administrator can access Layer 4-7 services without having to know how to configure BIG-IP.
With NSX covering Layers 2 and 3, the partnership can be called a Layer 2-7 offering. It’s one of several such alliances that will probably emerge as more Layer 4-7 players set up partnerships with VMware.
You could think of this as another attempt to speed up application development by trying to eliminiate a bottleneck. With server virtualization, the network became that bottleneck, so vendors came up with network virtualization — which then made Layer 4-7 services the bottleneck. “If I shift the bottleneck from Layer 2-3 to Layer 4-7, I still have a bottleneck,” says Nathan Pearce, F5’s senior technical marketing manager.
Check out more VMworld 2014 news SDNCentral covered this week:
- VMware’s EVO Doesn’t Scare Nutanix
- VMworld Newswire: NSX, Storage, and a Touch of DevOps
- Nutanix Raises the Stakes by Raising $140M More
- Quanta Shows Off a VMware EVO:RACK (But Doesn’t Ship Yet)
- VMworld: VMware Gets Its Hands Dirty in Hardware, OpenStack, and Containers
- VMware NSX Puts the Spotlight on Security
- VMware Declares Docker Containers Are Friends, Not Foes