What Other Boat May VMware Have Missed?

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2012-07-24 Print this article Print

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What Other Boat May VMware Have Missed?

"So where else are they (VMware) missing the boat?" Yueh asked rhetorically. "They're missing the boat on database virtualization, potentially a larger market than network virtualization. It's no secret that the database market supports the world's largest enterprise software company (Oracle). Their early efforts in this market have also missed the mark."

That's a topic for another day, and we will discuss it here at eWEEK.

Other networking companies do some types of network virtualization--namely, Cisco Systems, Jupiter Networks, Citrix, Vyatta and others. They all do internal network virtualization through VPNs and other secure data channels, but they're all proprietary. To open control of these boxes to network admins would be to cut into their service profits tremendously.

This is not the same as software-defined networking, either. Independent Nicira opens a previously locked door to better control of this data flow, offering an important alternative in this sector.

With the addition of Nicira, which has built a virtual networking engine using open-source components, VMware now has its own virtual networking division by combining its VXLAN team with Nicira's developers.

The combination of Nicira and VMware will deliver agile, elastic and efficient resources (compute, storage, network, security and availability) on demand for a full range of customers, such as telcos, cloud service providers, enterprises and government agencies, VMware CTO Steve Herrod wrote in his blog.

Everything in a Data Center is Virtualizable

Everything is being virtualized now. Just about any piece of hardware in the data center can be abstracted in some way for more efficient use, and newcomers are generally coming with better ways to do it.

Last week at an industry discussion meeting, eWEEK asked Allwyn Sequeira, CTO and vice president of cloud networking and security at VMware, if he could think of any data center component that hasn't been virtualized. He couldn't think of anything.

Servers, storage, databases, even I/O has been virtualized. Networking is the last key component that has been held back, thanks to the so-called black boxes that currently rule the sector.

Software-defined networking is a major departure from standard procedure in data centers. The firmware of network switches and routers--otherwise known as the control plane--traditionally has been a black box: locked, proprietary and kept under the control of the companies that manufacture those machines.

Software-defined networking turns this old-school approach on its head to make the control plane remotely accessible and modifiable via third-party software clients, using open protocols such as OpenFlow. SDN is in large part about understanding and managing a network as a virtualized entity.

Access and Portability are the Keys

With this portability, SDN allows for quicker experimenting and optimization of switching/routing policies and for open access to the inner workings of switches and routers that formerly were closed. Basically, changes can now be made when necessary.

Will VMware's move corner the market and cause alarm? Probably not. But with this acquisition, VMware's going to be hard to catch over the next few years in this sector.

Chris Preimesberger is eWEEK's Editor for Features and Analysis. Twitter: @editingwhiz

Chris Preimesberger Chris Preimesberger was named Editor-in-Chief of Features & Analysis at eWEEK in November 2011. Previously he served eWEEK as Senior Writer, covering a range of IT sectors that include data center systems, cloud computing, storage, virtualization, green IT, e-discovery and IT governance. His blog, Storage Station, is considered a go-to information source. Chris won a national Folio Award for magazine writing in November 2011 for a cover story on Salesforce.com and CEO-founder Marc Benioff, and he has served as a judge for the SIIA Codie Awards since 2005. In previous IT journalism, Chris was a founding editor of both IT Manager's Journal and DevX.com and was managing editor of Software Development magazine. His diverse resume also includes: sportswriter for the Los Angeles Daily News, covering NCAA and NBA basketball, television critic for the Palo Alto Times Tribune, and Sports Information Director at Stanford University. He has served as a correspondent for The Associated Press, covering Stanford and NCAA tournament basketball, since 1983. He has covered a number of major events, including the 1984 Democratic National Convention, a Presidential press conference at the White House in 1993, the Emmy Awards (three times), two Rose Bowls, the Fiesta Bowl, several NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, a Formula One Grand Prix auto race, a heavyweight boxing championship bout (Ali vs. Spinks, 1978), and the 1985 Super Bowl. A 1975 graduate of Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., Chris has won more than a dozen regional and national awards for his work. He and his wife, Rebecca, have four children and reside in Redwood City, Calif.Follow on Twitter: editingwhiz

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