VMWorld, for those of you not in the know, is where ever-powerful virtualization technology company VMware (VMW) shows off its stuff, along with many partners (and many parties). This show has grown very hot over the years, because not only has virtualization taken off, but a number of companies providing complementary and partnering technologies has also taken off.
Virtualization is so hot that the Wall Street Journal is now covering VMworld. Uh-oh! Is virtualization still hot? Sure. But more importantly, it looks like it’s entering its next leg: Some sort of merger with so-called Software Defined Networking (SDN). One could argue that server virtualization, in which software is used to split of sections of hadware running in a data center so that the hadware can be used by different clients, was a sort of precursor to SDN. Virtualization is software-defined servers. The next leg is virtualizing entire networks, essentially the goal of SDN.
These theme were all running strong this week at VWworld, and in fact show how the virtualization market is on a collision course with SDN, with VMware and its Nicira acquistion potentially at the heart of it. Here’s a recap of what’s going on and why you should care:
Nicira gets networked. In an interview a few weeks ago with SDN guru Craig Matsumoto, we talked about the anticipation of what VMware was going to do with it’s big $1.3 billion acquisition of Nicira, which it made last year. Everybody in the networking world has been waiting to hear about Nicira because it means a lot for networking and the advent of the advancing wave SDN technology.
It was already known that Nicira’s technology was being rolled into a network virtualization product from VMware called NSX, which supports a number of virtualization platforms including VMware’s VSphere, KVM, Xen. Support for Microsoft’s Hyper-V is on the way. VMware officially launched the platform this week. The idea here is that VMware can deliver higher performance (and potentially security) by integrated the virtualized data center with the storage network, making for a more complete virtual network. What exactly is the news? This is VMware’s SDN architecture taking shape, definining a much deeper moves into networks form the company.
Here’s what a few people are saying about ti:
Storage Virtualization. Just yesterday, we posted an interview with enterpreneur Jonathan Reeves who said that storage and SANs are going to become a much bigger part of the virtualization world. Shortly after, VMware, as Reeves predicted, announced it is adding additional networking and storage functions with a new product called Virtual SAN. Why’s it matter? It’s a big move into anothe part of a network. SANs are where they data of a network is kept, and they are often run separately with a whole different set of technologies from either the computing servers or the networking gear. VMware pioneered the virtualizing data-center servers by allowing them to split their applications and operating systems for different users. Now, it’s moving into ways to virtualize the entire network, including the storage network.
Virtual SAN will allow starge resources to be shared over VMware’s Vsphere private clouds, supporting SSDs (Solid-state Drives), or flash-based storage. VMware says a public beta will be available in Q3 2013. EMC, VMware’s parent company, announced that it will team with VMware integrate storage products with Virtual SAN.
Gearing up for the Cisco battle. So, this looks like it could be a big shift. VMware is extending a collection of new virtualization technologies deeper into the network. A shift is happening, as SDN gets hot, and becomes the concept behind the virtualized network.
It’s time for alliances to form and the battle lines to be drawn. HP (HPQ) and Juniper (JNPR) have jumped on the NSX train. They announced that they’ll tie in their SDN platforms into VMware’s NSX. This is very interesting. Call it the Alliance Against Cisco (AAC). Gartner analyst Joe Skorupa said it’s a full assault. The buzz in the tech media this morning is that this is a Cisco-targeting alliance. There’s no doubt that it’s a pretty big joint venture.
But keep in mind that VMware has a partnership with Cisco, and that Cisco even owns a small stake in VMware (and wishes it owned more). Let’s keep an eye out for what Cisco says about NSX.
This is no slam dunk for VMware. It’s new terrain. Given the compexity of networks, different hardware providers, and a wide array of strage technologies, this isn’t exactly easy. Nutanix CEO Dheeraj Pandey points out that the networking is a new market for VMware, and that VMware doesn’t have a sales channel there. Hence, the partnership with HP and Juniper.
Here’s some fun. VWware CEO Patt Gelsinger and Venture Capitalists/Netscape Founder Marc Andreessen reportedly got into a heated debate during a session titled, “The Data Center is Dead, Long Live the Data Center.” What’s the beef? Whether companies could go all-cloud or not. Gelsinger says many enterprises will continue to manage their own IT, Andreessen says not. They also debated the relative importance of ARM. Andreessen says ARM chips will get a leg up in the data center against Intel. Gelsinger says Intel and x86 chips are here to stay.