This syndicated post originally appeared at Zeus Kerravala's blog.

All eyes are on San Francisco this week.  Why?  Because Colin Kaepernick is going to have the best season for a second year quarterback since Dan Marino’s magical 1984 season?  That’s a pretty good reason, but the pre-season still has a week left.

No, this week downtown San Francisco is overrun by 25,000 supreme geeks as VMware tries to convince everyone that the software defined data center is the future and other vendors look to align themselves with this message.

One of the vendors attempting to do just that is WAN optimization vendor Silver Peak. Yesterday, Silver Peak announced integration with VMware’s NSX network virtualization to create greater network agility. Given the trends in networking – the continued increase in virtual traffic combined with a shift to hybrid cloud architectures creates a need for greater network agility.

During his keynote presentation, CEO Pat Gelsinger said the network is the biggest barrier to broader adoption of virtualization. If the network isn’t agile and flexible, then the concept of the SDDC network fails.

Additionally, the SDDC brings about change in the way companies operate and manage the network. The highly manual processes required to make changes to the network can be slow and error prone, another barrier to fulfilling the vision of a more agile, fluid data center.

The Silver Peak solution integrates with VMware’s NSX to enable automated, rapid provisioning of network services between data centers, between a data center and branch and potentially between a data center and the cloud. The solution enables the Silver Peak global management system (GMS) to interact with NSX through the vCEF APIs that VMware enables.

The solution works by first registering the Silver Peak WANop service with the NSX. GMS then pulls down the virtual machine inventory from vCenter. Then, if WAN optimization is turned on, all virtual machine moves are sent through Silver Peak automatically so only optimized traffic is sent over the WAN, making the movement of a virtual machine faster, but also putting less burden on the corporate network.

The network manager could have accomplished this without the Silver Peak solution, but it would have required a number of manual steps and would have also required good communications between the network operations and server operations teams to coordinate network changes as the workload migration was initiated.

Yesterday, as Gelsinger was going through his keynote, I saw several Tweets from the audience making claims like “this solution looks great but I can’t get my server and network teams to even sit in the same room!” While these were just a few comments, the organizational challenges within companies is something that will inhibit broader use of network virtualization.

The Silver Peak agility solution solves some of those problems by giving the network manager a view of what VMs are moving where and enables automated network configuration to ensure the process works efficiently and is optimized. For customers that still fear network automation, Silver Peak has an option to allow “point and click” optimization, so there’s still some intervention needed by IT.

Network virtualization was certainly a big theme here at VMworld 2013 with the official launch of NSX. However, the technology can create some blinds spots and operational headaches if done as a pure overlay. The Silver Peak solution provides a nice bridge between the physical and virtual topology for virtual traffic moving over the corporate WAN.

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Zeus Kerravala

Zeus Kerravala is the founder and principal analyst with ZK Research. Kerravala provides a mix of tactical advice to help his clients in the current business climate and long term strategic advice.
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