The software-defined data center was all the rage at VMworld 2013, when NSX, VMware’s network virtualization platform, was announced. At VMworld 2014, the honeymoon of the NSX hype had worn off some, yet network virtualization is still a key growing and maturing technology. Nevertheless, it is still too immature for an all-out adoption at this point, in my opinion. I had an opportunity during the VMworld 2014 Tech Field Day Extra to sit in on a briefing and demo from Nuage Networks.
At the beginning, the presenter going over the technology was speaking “networkese” very fast. I sported a bit of a “deer in the headlight” look until he got to the demo, after which my understanding of the technology changed drastically for the better. If anyone from Nuage Networks is reading this, I have a recommendation for you: when speaking with people who are not network primaries, start with the demo and then get into the technical aspects. This should help prompt questions that can guide you into the technical deep end.
Let me tell you my take on Nuage Networks technology. Nuage delivers a software-defined networking platform in a policy-based manner. It has built a “policy brain” into the software-defined networking platform, as well as an orchestration engine that translates the policies into actions. This “policy brain” appears to be something Nuage is quite proud of, and it is one of the points that was brought up the most. Based on the demo, it is pretty slick, easy to use, and just plain cool technology.
Nuage Networks is able to connect and control multiple hypervisors, such as OpenStack, VMware, and CloudStack. Its Virtualized Services Platform (VSP) comprises three different areas:
Virtualized Services Directory (VSD) is a policy and business logic engine that simplifies the definition of network services in an application-friendly context. It provides enterprise administrators the freedom to outline the networking requirements of their cloud applications in familiar IT constructs and establishes policies that ensure the proper scope, security, and integrity of application consumption in a manner consistent with enterprise guidelines.
Virtualized Services Controller (VSC) maintains the full view of per-tenant network and service topologies and instantiates network service templates defined through the VSD. Through the Nuage Networks VSC, distributed virtual routing and switching constructs are established that incorporate hypervisors as direct extensions.
Virtual Routing and Switching (VRS) is a module that serves as a virtual endpoint for network services. Through the VRS, changes in the compute environment are immediately detected, triggering instantaneous policy-based responses in network connectivity to ensure that the needs of applications are met.
No software-defined data center or networking virtualization platform is worth anything without the ability to integrate and connect to the physical world. The Nuage Networks 7850 Virtualized Services Gateway (VSG) extends software-defined networking functionality between virtualized and nonvirtualized assets in the data center functioning at layers 2 through 4. This device works alongside the Nuage Networks VSP to ensure that policies devised for applications automatically extend across virtualized and nonvirtualized assets for a fully automated network infrastructure.
This gives you a high-level overview of how the technology works, but as I mentioned at the start of this post, seeing is believing, as far as the technology goes. The demo itself was pretty impressive, so I encourage anyone who is curious about the technology to take a look a demo and get a peek at the Nuage Networks vision of the software-defined data center.