Monday, August 26, 2013

VMware Refines its Software-Defined Data Center Strategy

One year after unveiling its architecture for software-defined data centers, VMware is updating the portfolio with four new products aimed at driving virtualization in networking, security, storage, availability, management and automation. Significantly, the announcement leverages technology from Nicira, which VMware acquired one year ago for over $1 billion.

The company said its goal is to provide agility and control for building and operating private, hybrid and public clouds.

The announcement coincides with the tenth annual VMworld conference, which is underway this week in San Francisco.

The product announcements include:

VMware NSX – a network virtualization platform that will deliver the entire networking and security model in software, decoupled from networking hardware. VMware said its approach to network virtualization enables data center operators to treat their physical network as a pool of transport capacity that can be consumed and repurposed on-demand.

VMware NSX integrates elements of Nicira NVP and VMware vCloud Network and Security into one unified platform, delivering the entire networking and security model (Layer 2 – Layer 7) in software. In addition, the VMware NSX virtual networks support existing applications, unchanged, on any physical network infrastructure.

Some other notes: VMware NSX services are integrated with the hypervisor kernel, enabling scalabilty by adding more server nodes. The company said its architecture can handle as much as 1 TB per second of network traffic per cluster of 32 hosts.

VMware Virtual SAN a new technology that extends VMware vSphere to pool compute and direct-attached storage. VMware Virtual SAN will deliver a virtual data plane that clusters server disks and flash to create high-performance, resilient shared storage designed for virtual machines. It also uses a distributed architecture to enable storage services to scale out linearly with the needs of the application. Essentially, VMware said it has redefined the role of the hypervisor to deliver virtualized compute and storage services with I/O performance comparable to mid-range storage arrays while leveraging the economics of direct-attached storage.  VMware Virtual SAN provides a policy-drive control plane for server-side solid state disks (SSDs) and hard disk drives (HDDs).

VMware vCloud Suite 5.5 – the latest release features new and enhanced product functionality to help customers build and operate a vSphere-based private cloud using the software-defined data center architecture.  The VMware vCloud Suite is built on the foundation of VMware vSphere. Enhancements include better ability to detect and recover from application or operating system failure, a flash read cache that virtualizes server-side flash, and a low-latency sensitivity feature.  VMware is also now supporting Apache Hadoop and Big Data workloads on VMware vSphere 5.5.

VMware vSphere with Operations Management 5.5 – which combines vSphere virtualization platform with insight to workload capacity and health. These tools help with capacity planning, monitoring and maintenance.

"New products such as VMware NSX and VMware Virtual SAN will fundamentally redefine the hypervisor and its role in the data center. Along with the recently introduced VMware vCenter Log Insight, these products represent the next wave of innovation at VMware. We continue to evolve the software-defined data center architecture to address IT’s critical needs - enabling them to build infrastructure that is radically simpler and more efficient while delivering the agility and flexibility to support the velocity of their businesses," stated Raghu Raghuram, executive vice president, Cloud Infrastructure and Management, VMware.

In July 2012, VMware acquired Nicira, a start-up focused on software-defined networking (SDN) for approximately $1.05 billion in cash plus approximately $210 million of assumed unvested equity awards.
Nicira, which was based in Palo Alto, California, developed a software-based Network Virtualization Platform (NVP) that creates a distributed virtual network infrastructure in cloud data centers that is completely decoupled and independent from physical network hardware. The company says its technology "decouples and isolates virtual networks from the underlying network hardware, like server virtualization decouples and isolates virtual machines from the underlying server hardware."

Nicira's NVP software is implemented at the network edge and managed by distributed clustered controller architecture. The system forms a thin software layer that treats the physical network as an IP backplane. This approach allows the creation of virtual networks that have the same properties and services as physical networks, such as security and QoS policies, L2 reachability, and higher-level service capabilities such as stateful firewalling. These virtual networks can be created dynamically to support VM mobility anywhere within or between data centers without service disruption or address changes.