What VMware's Nicira Buy Signals to Enterprise IT - Page 2

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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 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...