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. 

Sprint Launches Ethernet Wave Service

Sprint announced the availability of Ethernet Wave Service for business customers, promising secure, always-on wireless and wireline connectivity with maximum data security and privacy.

Sprint Ethernet Wave Service is now available in 88 U.S. markets and expansion will continue through 2014. As a fixed, point-to-point 100 percent dedicated high-speed connection, it offers 10 Gigabit Ethernet (GigE), 40GigE and 100GigE speeds. The secure, always-on connectivity with 24x7 network monitoring helps to ensure the service is available when needed and is performing optimally. Sprint is offering flat-rate pricing.

Sprint’s Ethernet Solutions portfolio also includes Ethernet access, which is available today in 149 U.S. markets and 81 countries around the globe.

Sprint said its Ethernet Wave Service is enabled by its Network Vision initiative, which uses a Ciena 6500-based architecture for delivery of 10GigE, 40GigE and 100GigE wavelengths. Sprint is leveraging Ciena’s WaveLogic 3 coherent optical processors to scale its existing infrastructure to speeds of 100G, with the ability to scale to 400G links in the future.

“While Carrier Ethernet is becoming a ubiquitous service provided locally and globally, Sprint’s Ethernet Wave Service offers businesses the flexibility, higher speeds and scalability needed for emerging applications,” said Mike Sapien, principal analyst with Ovum Research. “It is just as important that these services are backed by service level agreements that will deliver end-to-end performance requirements with the high-speed, high-bandwidth transport service. Sprint already has a strong market reputation in service management from our survey data, and the addition of new Ethernet transport options and additional coverage will complement their solutions portfolio.”

Mike Fitz, vice president of wireline for Sprint, added, “We’re deploying new network technologies designed to meet the speed and capacity demands of today’s business-critical applications and to allow businesses to simplify network operations through familiar Ethernet technology. Leveraging the investment in state-of-the-art converged packet-optical transport technology as part of our Network Vision, we are enhancing our industry-recognized wireline network to carry a suite of powerful, higher speed bandwidth Ethernet services. Our customized approach to solving business challenges and proven success in offering managed network solutions makes us uniquely positioned to successfully support high-performance Ethernet services.”

Earlier this month, Sprint and Ciena announced two milestones in speed and capacity on Sprint’s network:

  • Sprint has deployed one of the longest 100 Gbps circuits in the United States with a live transmission that required no signal regeneration over a distance of 2,100 km, or 1,304 miles, between Chicago and Fort Worth, Texas. The 100 Gbps link uses Ciena WaveLogic 3 coherent optical processors on the 6500 Packet Optical Platform
  • Last month, the companies successfully completed a live 400Gbps trial on Sprint’s network in the Silicon Valley area using existing Sprint fiber infrastructure and Ciena’s 6500 with WaveLogic 3 cards. The high-capacity link operated without error. The companies said this demonstrated the viability of using 400Gbps channels alongside existing channels carrying live customer traffic. 
As announced in 2012, Sprint is upgrading its optical backbone network with Ciena’s 6500 Packet-Optical Platform as part of its Network Vision initiative.

Ciena has been a strategic supplier to Sprint since 1998.

AT&T Expands Coverage of 45 Mbps U-verse Internet Service

AT&T has expanded its U-verse Internet service, offering speeds of up to 45 Mbps downstream and up to 6 Mbps upstream, coverage to 40 new markets across 15 states.

AT&T's expansion of faster U-verse Internet speeds is part of the company's Project Velocity IP (VIP), a three-year investment plan announced last fall to expand and enhance its IP broadband networks. AT&T plans to upgrade top tier U-verse speeds to up to 100 Mbps in the future.

  • On November 7, 2012, AT&T unveiled Project Velocity IP (VIP) -- its plan to invest $14 billion over the next three years to significantly expand and enhance its wireless and wireline IP broadband network. The plan adds $8 billion for wireless initiatives and $6 billion for wireline initiatives.  It also makes a distinction between areas where the company believes are better served wirelessly rather the through a traditional copper network or deploying a fiber infrastructure.
  • Total capital spending is now expected to be approximately $22 billion for each of next three years. The company said a stronger balance sheet has provided it the financial footing to invest. AT&T is also increasing its quarterly dividend 2.3 percent and is predicting EPS will grow by mid-single digits for the next 3 years with opportunity for stronger growth going forward.
  • The Project VIP plan includes an upgrade for U-verse to speeds of up to 75Mbps and for U-verse IPDSLAM to speeds of up to 45Mbps, with a path to deliver even higher speeds in the future.
  • In the 25 percent of AT&T's wireline customer locations where it's currently not economically feasible to build a competitive IP wireline network, the company said it will utilize its expanding 4G LTE wireless network -- as it becomes available -- to offer voice and high-speed IP Internet services. The company's 4G LTE network will cover 99 percent of all in-region customer locations. AT&T's 4G LTE network offers speeds competitive with, if not higher than, what is available on wired broadband networks today. 
  • Gigamon Enables Multi-tenant Visibility

    Gigamon announced the latest release of its GigaVUE H Series software, Version 3.1, offering enhancements to Flow Mapping as well as support for role-based access control and advanced workflows for independent and concurrent monitoring policy configurations. This provides the ability to virtualize the Visibility Fabric.  The company said these new capabilities will enable enterprises to offer Visibility as a Service to internal IT tenants, who will gain the power to dynamically change monitoring and traffic visibility policies on a per-organization or per-tenant basis without impacting other departmental monitoring polices and while maintaining compliance and privacy.

    "The notion of multi-tenancy has made its way from the public cloud space into enterprise IT infrastructure as well," said Shehzad Merchant, Chief Strategy Officer at Gigamon. "This solution enables network administrators and services teams to virtualize the Visibility Fabric and offer Visibility as a Service to the different IT departments."

    The GigaVUE H Series 3.1 software update is targeted for availability for current and future GigaVUE H Series customers on September 30, 2013.

    Radisys and Telum Attach an eNodeB in Russia to EPC in California

    Radisys and Telum, which supplies military and professional radio communications systems in Russia, successfully integrated Radisys’ Compact Evolved Packet Core (EPC) with Telum’s compact LTE base station (eNodeB).

    For the interoperability test, Radisys’ Compact EPC was deployed remotely in San Diego, California and integrated with Telum’s eNodeB in Moscow, Russia, showcasing the ability to integrate an eNodeB remotely from the EPC. The test demonstrates how equipment, based on industry 3GPP standards, can interoperate in a private LTE network.

    The companies said aerospace and Defense (A&D) and public safety contractors are turning to private LTE networks using carrier-grade quality and proven, commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) technology as LTE offers numerous advantages for private networks, including higher speeds and lower latency. The all-IP network is standards-based, allowing the military to take advantage of a large ecosystem of vendors for the radio and core networks, keeping network costs affordable and enabling interoperability. In addition, A&D contractors can leverage the broad availability of LTE smart phones in the market, replacing the clunky and expensive handsets associated with legacy private networks.

    “We are pleased to partner with Radisys, its product exceeded our expectations not only in terms of ease of integration of the solution with an eNodeB to deliver an end-to-end LTE network, but also due to the impressive performance,” said Pavel Boyko, CEO, Telum LLC. “Radisys’ Compact EPC perfectly complements our high-performance compact eNodeB and allows us to deliver outstanding end-to-end private LTE infrastructure solutions that meet the bandwidth and quality of service needs of our customers.”

    “Telum is exactly the kind of partner that we seek to enable the adoption of LTE for private networks,” said Keate Despain, vice president and general manager, Platforms, Radisys. “Radisys’ solutions are already deployed in LTE networks by two of the top ten U.S. defense contractors, and we are in development with three of the top 20 contractors in A&D and public safety around the world. Our field-proven LTE technology enables faster deployment times and industry-leading performance, and we look forward to continuing to work with Telum as they serve this growing market.”

    Lifeline Data Centers Builds Four Megawatt Solar Array

    Lifeline Data Centers is planning to install a 4 megawatt solar power array at its Eastgate data center campus in Indianapolis, Indiana. Project completion is expected by April 2014.

    “I am very proud that Lifeline Data Centers is one of the first large independent data center facilities in the country to be largely powered by solar energy,” stated Lifeline co-owner Alex Carroll.

    The company noted that it now joins the likes of Apple, eBay, Facebook, and Cisco in the adoption of solar power as a clean and renewable data center power source that reduces dependence on the commercial power grid.

    Fusion-io Debuts Flash-Optimized ioVDI Software

    Fusion-io introduced a software set for virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) acceleration using flash in data center servers.

    The company said its ioVDI software eliminates complicated VDI configurations with a simple server deployment model that delivers persistent desktop performance at a cost similar to stateless desktops. Fusion-io claims its software streamlines data requirements closest to the application at the VM level, consistently delivering less than 200 milliseconds of application latency and averaging at only 10 milliseconds. Without ioVDI, application latency can be as much as over 1800 milliseconds, with average latency at around 600 milliseconds.

    Fusion ioVDI will be available as stand-alone software and as an integrated solution featuring ioVDI software and Fusion ioCache virtualization acceleration platforms integrated into servers from Fusion-io Original Equipment Manufacturers.

    "With ioVDI software, enterprises can finally deliver a virtual desktop experience that is just as responsive as physical hardware," said Vikram Joshi, Fusion-io Chief Technologist and Vice President. "Writing data creates a storage bottleneck in virtual desktop infrastructure that is uniquely solved by ioVDI software. Using highly optimized algorithms, ioVDI fetches data from server-side flash, intelligently offloading most reads and up to 80% of the writes from primary storage to ensure ample storage resources for applications delivered virtually. Making efficient use of CPU and I/O resources with ioVDI allows for hundreds of desktops to be hosted on a single server without compromising end-user experience, which is absolutely critical to the success of VDI."

    HyTrust Raises $18.5 Million for Cloud Security Automation (CSA)

    HyTrust, a start-up based in Mountain View, California, raised $18.5 million in Series C funding for its Cloud Security Automation (CSA).

    HyTrust said its sales are on target to quadruple in 2013. The company’s cloud security platform delivers security, control, visibility, management and compliance to virtualized environments.

    The funding came from new investors Intel Capital and Fortinet, as well as recent investors VMware and In-Q-Tel. Previous investors Granite Ventures, Cisco, Trident Capital and Epic Ventures also participated in this round.

    “Averting a datacenter disaster is top-of-mind for every chief information and security officer, and HyTrust provides complete visibility into what’s happening in cloud environments, with advancements that enable customers to identify and stop breaches before damage is done,” said Eric Chiu, President and Founder of HyTrust. “In the current environment, following widely publicized incidents like the NSA and Shionogi breaches, organizations are far more aware of the dangers of not having real-time visibility into datacenter operations, or the assurance that policies are automated, applied correctly and enforced. They need to know that potential threats can be contained—it’s the only way to maintain brand reputation, protect revenues and mitigate financial risk.”

    Mellanox and Micron Announce 40 GigE Flash Storage for Virtualized Data Centers

    Mellanox Technologies and Micron today announced a collaborative solution that combines Mellanox’s ConnectX-3 40GbE NICs with iSCSI over RDMA (iSER) and Micron’s 1.4TB P420m PCIe SSD cards. The companies said the iSER protocol enables Micron’s flash storage to serve virtual machines on a single ESXi 5.1 host with an aggregate bandwidth of 11GB/s or 527,000 IOPS using only two interconnect cards in a 3U box.

    “The combined solution of Mellanox’s 40GbE NICs with iSER and Micron’s P420m PCIe SSD enables higher performance and accelerates storage applications running in virtualized environments,” said Yaron Haviv, vice president data center solutions at Mellanox Technologies. “In addition, by consolidating compute and storage traffic over a single-wire infrastructure reduces data center complexity and cost.”

    The companies are demonstrating a Supermicro 6037R-TXRF server that supports 10 PCIe Gen3 x8 slots with two Mellanox 40GbE RDMA NICs and 8 Micron 1.4TB P420m PCI SSDs.