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Monthly Archives: July 2012

VMware and Nicira – Advancing the Software-Defined Datacenter

Steve_Herrod
Posted by Steve Herrod
Chief Technology Officer

Today I am extremely excited to announce VMware’s acquisition of Nicira, a 5-year-old company that has pioneered software-defined networking (SDN) and is the leader in networking virtualization for heterogeneous infrastructure environments and clouds.  When combined with the outstanding networking team and technologies already at VMware, I believe we have the same opportunity to do for networking what we’ve already done for servers and many other parts of the datacenter. In fact, the people, passions, ecosystem, and industry-transforming opportunity reminds me very much of the early days of VMware’s server virtualization efforts!  

But I’m getting a bit ahead of myself. Let’s step back and fit this acquisition into context of VMware’s broader vision and product offerings.

Delivering the Software-Defined Datacenter

In a recent blog, I discussed the notion of a software-defined datacenter, the foundation of cloud computing. Cloud computing is about agile, elastic, efficient, and reliable services, and it can only be achieved through intelligent software that abstracts out hardware resources, pools it into aggregate capacity, enabling automation to safely and efficiently dole it out as needed by applications.

Tenants or customers utilizing the software-defined datacenter can have their own virtual datacenter with an isolated collection of all the compute, storage, networking, and security resources that they are used to. Furthermore, this virtual datacenter can grow and shrink to efficiently utilize physical resources. But most importantly, the time to deploy these resources can be orders of magnitude faster than in most of today’s IT environments. This is what the software-defined datacenter is all about, and it is the architecture for the cloud. This acquisition advances our software-defined datacenter strategy.

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For the past 14 years, VMware has led the way towards the software-defined datacenter with our battle-tested server virtualization capabilities, as well as through vSphere’s software-based storage and availability offerings. Nicira will help us advance our software-defined networking activities substantially. Today we offer VMware vSphere’s virtual switching,  vCloud Director Networking, vShield Network and Security services, and collaborate with the industry on the VXLAN protocol. This acquisition expands VMware’s networking portfolio to provide a full suite of SDN capabilities and a comprehensive solution lineup for virtualizing the network – from virtual switching to virtualized layer 3-7 services.

Some Challenges with Networking in the Cloud

Cloud computing has put a real strain on traditional approaches to networking. Managing networks and networking services in a cloud environment is complex and time-consuming: to provision and configure the networking services for workloads in the cloud, customers often have to deal with creating and managing thousands of VLANs and VLAN rules. As a result, while provisioning a VM may take only 2 min, provisioning the associated network and networking services can add days or even weeks to the process. Furthermore, cloud computing benefits from applications’ ability to move all around a datacenter (or even across datacenters). However, physical network topology limits workload mobility within the scope of a top-of-the-rack switch and a handful of servers.  The industry clearly recognizes the need and opportunity to transform networking for the cloud, and thus to enable even more agility and efficiency in its operation.

Enter Software-Defined Networking

To address these challenges, Nicira’s software-defined networking starts by virtualizing the network, decoupling the logical view of a network from its physical implementation. It does so by creating an abstraction layer between server hosts and existing networking gear which decouples and isolates virtual networks for specific networking hardware, turning it into a pool of network capacity. This enables the on-demand, programmatic creation of tens of thousands of isolated virtual networks with the simplicity and operational ease of creating and managing virtual machines. The resulting business value comes from more agile, efficient, flexible, and robust networking configurations. You can more about network virtualization here, and the included picture should look familiar:

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Embracing Multiple Hypervisors and Multiple Clouds

Customers want networking solutions that work across their entire datacenter, managing communication of both VMware- and non-VMware installations as well as (gasp!) physical hardware. Nicira is the pioneer in software-defined networking, but it is important to note that they are also the leader in network virtualization for heterogeneous hypervisor and cloud environments. They are major contributors to the networking capabilities of other hypervisors (via the Open vSwitch community) as well as to the “Quantum Project”, one of the key subsystems of OpenStack.

I can imagine skepticism as to whether we will continue this substantial embrace of non-VMware hypervisors and clouds. Let me be clear in this blog… we are absolutely committed to maintaining Nicira’s openness and bringing additional value and choices to the OpenStack, CloudStack, and other cloud-related communities. It’s worth noting that this builds upon the openness delivered by our other recent acquisition of DynamicOps, a leader in cloud automation solutions for heterogeneous environments. It also builds upon our experience with the SpringSource community as well as our stewardship of the CloudFoundry Open Platform as a Service Project.

Similarly, Nicira’s network virtualization supports a broad variety of NICs, switches, appliances, networking APIs, and fabric types. A customer’s ability to gain new networking virtualization capabilities without changing out their existing infrastructure is paramount. This is an area VMware is very comfortable with today through our broad partnerships and hardware compatibility programs around servers and storage. We will continue to maintain our open approach and provide access to our networking technology and APIs to our partners to allow them to add new value through both hardware and software advancements, as well as by providing compatibility with legacy systems. In this context we look forward to continuing to work closely with current and future ecosystem partners such as Cisco.

We’ll be sharing even more exciting news about how we plan to engage and support these different communities in the near future. In the meantime, you can visit the blog of Nicira co-founder and CTO Martin Casado here.

Looking Forward

In closing, this is an incredibly exciting time at VMware, but also for our collective industry. Customers clearly demand cloud computing, and we can deliver it via the software-defined datacenter. With this acquisition, we bring together two pioneering teams in network virtualization to accelerate the realization of the software-defined datacenter and the benefits it will deliver to businesses and service providers alike.

I’ll close now with a shameless plug to join us at VMworld where we’ll speak even more about VMware, Nicira, and the exciting times ahead!

VMware Helps Accelerate Customers’ Journey to the Cloud with Acquisition of DynamicOps


Posted by Ramin Sayar
Vice President &
General Manager,
Cloud Infrastructure
& Management

Today, VMware announced the signing of a definitive agreement to acquire DynamicOps, Inc. (read VMware press release, read DynamicOps’ blog post). Headquartered in Burlington, MA, DynamicOps is a leader in the emerging market for cloud automation solutions that enable provisioning and management of IT services across heterogeneous environments.

I am personally thrilled about the acquisition and let me explain the reasons behind my excitement.

While VMware in the past has been primarily focused on helping customers realize the benefits of virtualization, our mission has progressively expanded. Today, we are dedicated to helping our customers in their journey to the cloud.

Our role in this journey until now has been to help our customers build and deliver Infrastructure as a Service offerings in their datacenters, often referred to as the private cloud. To this end we have significantly expanded our product portfolio with offerings such as: VMware vCenter Operations Management Suite which provides integrated health, capacity and configuration management of a cloud infrastructure; VMware vShield which provides secure multi-tenancy and isolation; and VMware vCloud Director which aggregates virtualized storage, server and network resources to create virtual datacenters (VDCs) that can be automatically instantiated, elastically scaled and consumed on demand. The foundation, of course, is VMware vSphere, used in over 80% of virtualization deployments and together we are able to provide the most comprehensive solution for an enterprise-class private cloud. This innovative cloud infrastructure and management solution has been rapidly adopted by well over a thousand customers and the majority of leading service providers to enable common management, compliance and security for the enterprise hybrid cloud in a very short time.

Cloud computing has brought a new responsibility for IT. Instead of being solely a builder of services, IT now has to be a broker of services and infrastructure capacity sourced either internally or rented from multiple external resources – vCloud partners as well as other IaaS providers like AWS. I often hear from a variety of customers that “Our developers are using AWS for its application platform capabilities, but we would like to use and manage other external clouds as well. However, there is no way for us to impose uniform governance, control, access and self-service over heterogeneous cloud services.”

This is obviously a critical and emerging requirement for customers, which is why Gartner refers to it as a ‘Service Governor.’ DynamicOps solves this challenge for IT. The combination of our current product portfolio and DynamicOps helps our customers with both aspects of their cloud journey – by providing a complete infrastructure stack to build a cloud as well as a comprehensive management solution that addresses the consumption of cloud resources in a uniform way.

A number of customers have told me that, while they have and will continue to standardize on vSphere for their production datacenters, they have a few pockets of other hypervisors for various reasons, and they are looking for a multi-hypervisor management solution. DynamicOps’s unique model-driven architecture enables our vSphere and infrastructure admins to easily model IT infrastructure services so that the same policy, governance, self-service management capabilities we provide for vSphere can be extended to other hypervisors, physical hardware and other cloud resources.

For customers that have built clouds using VMware vCloud Director, DynamicOps will provide a policy automation and integration layer that enables IT to not only map users and applications to the right virtual datacenters, but also delivers the ability to integrate the provisioning process into IT’s existing investments such as provisioning and orchestration tools, service desks and CMDBs in order to provide a single cloud storefront across heterogeneous infrastructure pools. DynamicOps’s powerful capabilities can be extended to model and deliver application services as well. For instance, with DynamicOps IT can deliver higher-level services such as Platform-as-a-Service, Database-as-a-Service, and Storage-as-a-Service in the same uniform way as delivering core compute services on demand.

DynamicOps is also very synergistic with a set of cross-cloud solutions that VMware has brought to market recently. For example, vFabric Application Director, released in February, is a cloud-enabled application provisioning solution that simplifies how developers and application architects create and standardize application deployments across diverse cloud services. DynamicOps will be integrated with Application Director to provide policy and governance for where and how such applications should be deployed.

Finally, our roadmap for DynamicOps will include integration with our IT Business Management (ITBM) solution. ITBM provides a business lens to IT activities including costs and service levels associated with different infrastructure pools and providers. The combination of ITBM and DynamicOps will provide CIOs with an even higher level of governance and control and further accelerate the benefits of cloud computing.

In summary, customers are looking to VMware as their trusted advisor and solutions provider to help them build and manage agile, cost-effective hybrid clouds. We don’t take this responsibility lightly. While this acquisition further strengthens VMware’s position as the infrastructure and management platform of choice for cloud computing, it’s another big step for VMware and our customers on the journey to cloud computing and ITaaS, one we’re delighted to be able to announce today.