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Posts Tagged ‘virtualization’

Another New Year’s Resolution for Network Managers:
I Will Embrace Virtual Network Functions

In my blog near the beginning of the year, I urged network managers to make a resolution to not stick with the status quo when it comes to evaluating and selecting an SD-WAN solution provider, as it will ultimately prove a bad decision for the company and potentially the engineer’s career.  Another resolution network managers must make in 2017 is to embrace the concept of virtual network functions (VNFs), particularly for branch office and remote locations.

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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.

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A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog post defining what “open networking” really meant and how it should be defined. On Monday morning, one of the companies I mentioned in the blog, Pica8, announced its vision and reference architecture for software defined networks (SDNs). While I believe that we’re very early in the cycle for SDNs and most enterprises will look for fully integrated, complete solutions, large, network-centric enterprises, cloud providers and service providers will lean towards open, agile platforms to create competitive differentiation.

Pica8’s solution is designed to be a network development platform for cloud providers and includes a physical switch with an integrated hypervisor virtual switch and an SDN controller using OpenFlow 1.2 as the communications protocol between all of the components of the solution. The Pica8 PicOS operating system utilizes both the Open vSwitch 1.7.1 with OpenStack and the above mentioned OpenFlow 1.2 protocol and integrates with the Ryu controller designed by NTT, specifically for cloud providers.

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A couple of years ago, there was great debate as to whether Tom Brady-led Patriots or the Peyton Manning-led Colts were the “team of the decade” for the decade ending in 2010. In tech, though, we have no ESPN or JT the Brick to pose such questions, but if we were to give an award to the “technology of the decade” for that same time period, there would be no question as to what the winner is.

Virtualization, without a doubt, was the single-most disruptive technology that we’ve seen in IT a long time, maybe ever. Continuing with the sports analogies, it could be looked at as the Bobby Orr of IT, in that the game significantly changed because of it and set the future direction for years to come. 

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For decades, networks have been built on closed, proprietary infrastructure. It’s what’s allowed vendors to create unique features and differentiate themselves. Those features are what have enabled the networks to be as reliable, secure and resilient as they have been in the past. However, over the past couple of years it seems that “open” has become the new black when it comes to network infrastructure and every major vendor now has some degree of openness, although may not be 100% open (I’ll define later). Recently, though, I ran across a startup called Pica8 that is, by far, the most open networking vendor that I have seen to date.

Before I get into the specifics of Pica8, let me define why open networking has become all the rage and what it actually means.

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VMworld is about a month behind us now and I’ve had a little more time to noodle on the joint survey I did with virtualization management vendor Xangati. There was a tremendous amount of energy at VMworld and the show floor was one of the biggest and busiest I’ve seen in a long time. This might give one the impression that the VMware franchise is impenetrable, but the survey shows differently.

Before I go through some of the data, remember the survey was answered by current VMware customers, so the data is likely to be skewed pro-VMware, which makes the data even more surprising. VMware has had a virtual (pun intended) monopoly on the market, but there does seem to be some chinks in the armor that could be exploited by another solution provider.

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