VMWare Gets Deeper Into Software-Defined Networking

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2012-08-27

SAN FRANCISCO -- On the first day of its week in the sun here at VMworld 2012, VMware started its ninth annual worldwide users conference Aug. 27 by introducing a new product that fits right into the latest IT hot trend: software-defined networking.

This isn't a new hypervisor or random piece of data center middleware. It is simply a point version, v5.1, of an existing product, VMware's vCloud Suite management platform. But it's an important point version because it gives the world's largest virtualization software provider a lot more gravitas in networking.

VMware contends that software-defined networking -- which uses much more automation of standard functions, such as creating virtual machines and provisioning storage -- makes cloud computing more efficient and easier to administer, and it is hard to argue that point. Most well-conceived data center automation software does exactly that.

The software-defined datacenter architecture abstracts all hardware resources and pools them into aggregate capacity, enabling automation to safely and efficiently dole it out as needed for applications. Tenants or customers utilizing the software-defined data center can have their own virtual data centers with a logically isolated collection of all the virtual compute, storage, networking and security resources they need to operate.

vCloud Suite 5.1 is a bundled package of applications that combines control of -- and automates -- data flow, storage pooling and automation inside virtualized data centers and distributed IT systems.

Storage pooling, a key function of so-called SDN, came to general public attention a long while back in mainframe days but has been revived with the increased usage of virtualization in IT systems. Pooling is an approach to storage virtualization that delineates specific areas of the storage system to be dedicated to specific data flows to enable more efficient multitenant service deployments, for example. 

Key functions of vCloud Suite 5.1, according to VMware :

  • It serves as the foundation for VMware vSphere 5.1 with more than 100 new and/or improved features for all apps; support for VMs with up to 64 virtual CPUs; and enhancements to the VMware vSphere Distributed Switch and vSphere vMotion to enable live migration of VMs without the need for shared storage.
  • It automates management with VMware vCloud Director 5.1, vCloud Connector, vCenter Operations Management Suite and vFabric Application Director. Network admins will certainly appreciate that.
  • It updates network with the new VMware vCloud Networking and Security 5.1 (VXLAN protocol + vShield Edge.
  • It automates disaster recovery for all applications with VMware vSphere Data Protection, vCenter Site Recovery Manager 5.1.

VMware also introduced a couple of new SMB editions that bring big-enterprise-type functionality to smaller businesses. These include improved vSphere 5.1 Essentials Plus, vSphere 5.1 Standard with Operations Management, and Cloud Ops Intellectual Property and advisory services.

The latter enables enterprises to navigate through building, running and optimizing public and private cloud environments.

VMWorld continues through Aug. 30 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco.

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