VMware Builds Out Virtualization for Servers, Storage, Networking

by Jeffrey Burt

The company’s NSX virtual networking offering pulls its own technology and that from Nicira into a single solution.

VMware officials are unveiling a host of offerings aimed at giving organizations the necessary tools to create software-defined data centers for their cloud computing deployments.

On the first day of the VMworld 2013 show in San Francisco Aug. 26, company officials introduced new virtualization software offerings for the infrastructure layer, as well as software solutions for better managing and automating resources in the data center.

The offerings come at a time when 77 percent of VMware customers are expanding their use of virtualization beyond servers and into storage and networking, according to Peter Wei, senior director of product marketing at the giant virtualization technology vendor. It also comes at a time when the idea of software-defined data centers (SDDCs)—where all the components are virtualized, and management of the environment is done via software—is gaining traction among not only tech vendors, but also from companies that are growing their use of private, public and hybrid clouds.

Intel officials during a conference on data centers talked about the trend toward SDDCs, and Avaya this week at VMworld will be demonstrating its own SDDC framework, which will be based on the OpenStack platform and the company’s own Fabric Connect technology.

The movement is fueled by the rapid growth in the number of applications, users and devices that are tapping into the data center infrastructure, which is driving the demand for IT as a service, Wei said. Within this cloud-based and mobile environment, the IT requirements include the need to be able to quickly provision a production environment and the applications that run in it, to deploy any workload at any time and anywhere, and to enable any end user to use any device to use any application automatically.

“They want a Google-like infrastructure,” he told eWEEK.

With that in mind, VMware officials are rolling out offerings that address both the infrastructure as well as the management needs. On the infrastructure side, VMware is announcing new and enhanced virtualization offerings for servers as well as storage and networking.

On the compute side, VMware officials are unveiling vSphere 5.5, which includes support for such next-generation applications as Hadoop via the platform’s vSphere Big Data Extensions. The goal is to enable organizations to virtualize all types of workloads on the vSphere platform, including big data applications, Wei said. In addition, VMware is addressing the needs of businesses that want to virtualize more of their business-critical applications—such as SAP, Oracle, Java and Microsoft workloads—including making it easier for them to move the applications between virtual machines, pooling Flash resources and making the software more available via the vSphere App High Availability feature.

For networking, VMware is leveraging the $1.26 billion acquisition last year of software-defined networking (SDN) startup Nicira. The company is introducing NSX, the company’s network virtualization platform that unifies VMware’s own technology with that acquired from Nicira in a single solution. With the platform, VMware is enabling organizations to virtualize Layer 2-7 services—from the switch and router to load balancing, firewalls and VPNs—in software, and to enable the solution to work with any underlying networking hardware infrastructure, any hypervisor and any cloud management platform.

SDN has become a driving trend within the networking space, promising to make networks more programmable, scalable, flexible and cost-effective by taking the network intelligence from the complex and expensive hardware and putting it into software, managed by a software-based controller. It also should eliminate networks—which currently are programmed manually, a time-consuming and error-prone process—as the bottleneck in data centers where servers and storage devices are becoming more virtualized.

Nicira was a key startup in the SDN space, founded by the creators of the popular OpenFlow network controller protocol. However, Martin Casado, one of Nicira’s founders (and its CTO) and the driving force behind OpenFlow, said last year that his thinking on SDN has changed, and that he favors virtual switches over OpenFlow for automating and programming networking infrastructures. His vision is becoming a reality with NSX.

In storage, VMware is introducing Virtual SAN (storage-area networking), enabling businesses to pool their storage capabilities and to instantly and automatically provision virtual machine storage via simple policies driving by the virtual machine, with storage capacity and performance dynamically scaling as needed. Through a policy-driven control plane, the underlying physical storage is exposed to the virtual machines.

“We want to provision storage as quickly as we provision servers,” Wei said.

VMware’s vSAN currently is in beta testing.

The company also is offering greater automation capabilities via its vCloud Automation Center and vFabric Application Director, vCenter Operations and vCenter Log Insights, and IT Business Manager Suite.

Jeffrey Burt is senior editor with eWEEK. Follow him on Twitter.


Originally published on eWeek.
This article was originally published on Monday Aug 26th 2013
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