VMworld 2012: Software-Defined Networking Becomes a Buzzword

NEWS ANALYSIS: Software-defined networking and software-defined data centers now are official buzzwords in the lingo, thanks largely to this event. These are not new concepts, but they are heating up in importance because such a large worldwide audience talked about them at the same event.

SAN FRANCISCO -- Even though there wasn't what anyone could describe as blockbuster news at VMworld 2012, there were a large number of smaller news items -- mostly involving new products -- introduced at the show. In addition, several key industry partnerships were announced that will result in other new products in the future.


One lasting impression for many people, however, is that VMworld clearly has confirmed itself as being among the top dozen or so most important IT conferences in the world, taking its place alongside such various events as the International Computer Electronics Show, SxSW, CTIA, CeBIT, Oracle OpenWorld, DreamForce, Web 2.0, Structure and a handful of others.

Another takeaway is that so-called "software-defined networking" and "software-defined data centers" now are official buzzwords in the lingo, thanks largely to VMworld. These are not new concepts. However, they are relevant because such a large worldwide audience -- in person and online -- talked about them at the same time.

As long as virtualization deployments continue to multiply in data centers around the globe, VMworld will continue to be a top-drawer event. This is Ground Zero for learning about the next-generation data center, and the industry knows it.

vCloud Suite 5.1 a Key New Product

VMware itself brought forth a number of new and/or improved products, including vCloud Suite 5.1, which 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.

It may be simply a point version of an existing platform, but it's an important point version because it gives the world's largest virtualization software provider a lot more gravitas in this new-gen networking. Go here for more detail on the product.

The software-defined data center 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.

VMware vCloud Suite is a free upgrade for users with an Enterprise Plus vSphere license.

New Cisco-VMware SDN Partnership

Also in the SDN genre, Cisco and VMware jointly announced an expanded partnership for software-defined data centers that will include integrating Cisco's flagship line of Nexus 1000V switches into VMware's vSphere 5.1 suite. The two will also co-develop Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS)-based cloud systems that bundle vSphere 5.1 and vCloud 5.1 with Cisco-made switch, firewall and router products.

This is an addendum to the two companies' deal on the UCS system, which they launched with EMC in 2009.

Hewlett-Packard, meanwhile, demonstrated recently released virtualization software products that the company said simplify, automate and secure the movement of virtual machines (VMs) and data in cloud data centers.

"Simplify is a key part of the HP strategy to deliver software-defined networking," said Bethany Mayer, senior vice president and general manager of HP's networking division, in contrast to what she described as the inherent complexity of a Cisco network.

VMware, which hasn't done a lot of work in the open-source area, is fixing that by joining the open-source OpenStack Foundation. The OpenStack Foundation is an industry consortium that aims to provide tools for IT departments to virtualize their data centers and move services into public, private or hybrid cloud deployments.

Dell Wyse Makes an Entrance

This was the first event that Dell and its recent acquisition, longtime partner and virtual desktop and thin-client maker Wyse Technology, attended as a single entity. Dell Wyse launched Dell Cloud Client Computing as a public beta of Project Stratus.

EMC, mothership of VMware, demonstrated its big iron-type storage hardware alongside protégé VCE, which is marketing the pre-configured EMC-Cisco-VMware vBlock data center units.

NetApp announced that it has optimized its popular Data ONTAP storage operating system to run on VMware vSphere 5.1. Users now can download OnCommand Systems Manager and the Virtual Storage Console plug-in for VMware vCenter Server.

Symantec and VMware are now offering so-called virtualization "integration with purpose," which means it has made available reference architectures for various verticals, such as health care, education, retail and financial services.

It's not as if nothing else has a purpose here; it's just that Symantec and VMware cared enough to name it.

Chris Preimesberger is Editor of Features and Analysis at eWEEK. Twitter: @editingwhiz

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 13 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...