It’s that time again. VMworld 2014 opens in San Francisco on Monday, August 25. With fifty sessions covering network virtualization and security this year, it is clear that VMware is once again pushing software defined networking (SDN) and NSX, and that is as serious about the software defined network as it is about the rest of the data center. Unfortunately, I cannot make the conference this year, but I have perused the session catalog to see what sessions I would attend if I could. These cover a cross section of technical and procedural levels and should be beneficial to network virtualization newbies and veterans alike.
So, in no particular order, let’s start with my ten-ish most interesting SDN sessions. OK, so I couldn’t get it down to ten, and there are a couple more that should have made this list, but “my twenty-seven and three quarters most interesting sessions” doesn’t really cut it.
On April second, Cisco introduced something that seems to make a lot of sense in its new declarative-based, ACI-led world of software-defined networking: a policy mechanism. The blog post about it was pretty straightforward: it included the obligatory nods toward the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) and open-source communities, defined the differences between the traditional imperative and the newer Cisco declarative models, and had snazzy graphics. Cisco laid out the core challenge clearly:
For this declarative model to work across a multi-vendor environment, to translate and map policy definition into the infrastructure, there has hitherto been no standard protocol to do that across physical/virtual switches, routers and L4-L7 network services. This vacuum has led to the development of OpFlex, a new open standard recently submitted to the IETF.
Despite all of the rapid innovation and the incredible rate of change in technology, there are some things that you can count on. One of those things is that the transition from hardware to software is a cyclical one, and if you look at any one segment of the market long enough, that becomes apparent. We’ve seen it in the move from mainframes to x86 servers, to virtualized servers, to distributed, scale-out systems. We’ve seen it in the move from terminals to PCs to VDI to EUC and even in the move from legacy storage arrays to software layer, scale-out storage aggregation. Now, we can start to see the SDN market following the same pattern, and one of the leading indicators of that comes from a company called Netronome.
Many network virtualization products appear to be aimed at the top 10,000 customers worldwide, accounting for their price as well as their published product direction. While this is a limited and myopic view, many claim it is for the best, their reason being that network virtualization is only really needed by the very large networks. The more I think about this approach, the more I believe it is incorrect. Let us be frank here. Most networking today, within many different organizational sizes, is a hodgepodge of technologies designed to solve the same problem(s) over and over: how to get data quickly from point A to point B with minimum disruption to service. Continue reading Network Virtualization: Not Just for the Service Provider→
Recently, I had the opportunity to talk about the shortest path bridging (SPB) protocol with Avaya while at Interop. This conversation was one of many with networking companies. While SPB is a very interesting protocol, my questions were about how deep into the virtual environment the protocol extends. While SPB and other networking protocols are considered by some to be network virtualization, I could not see this within the realm of the virtual network and hence, confusion reigned. Depending on who is talking to whom, the same words can mean many different things. What I found amazing, still, is that most people thinks networking ends at the physical NIC within the virtualization host, and that what is inside, does not matter as much as what is outside. Continue reading Virtual Networking Is Not Network Virtualization→