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Nicira Acquisition is Key Cog in VMware SDN Vision

VMware has a knack for keeping our attention. All along the journey to the cloud, there have been interesting stop points and compelling concepts. Perhaps the most interesting and compelling of them all to this point is the software-defined data center, in which pools of hardware resources -- compute, storage, and networking -- can be abstracted, pooled, and provisioned. In VMware's vision this will eliminate the need for specialized hardware, because it is based on a more agile, flexible, and simpler model that works off of software instructions.

On its way to this idealized operating environment, VMware has developed a new virtual server-based abstraction called the Virtual Data Center. This offering is in effect a virtualized software representation of an entire datacenter -- including the requisite compute, storage, networking and security capabilities.

In this model, when business or application teams want data center capacity, IT can provision them with fully enabled virtual data centers, which includes many of those elusive cloud characteristics that are so attractive to organizations that are constantly implementing IT projects and production applications.

Now, via its acquisition of Nicira for $1.2 billion, VMware is able to include Virtual Data Centers as parts of a more seamless, comprehensive, data center environment based on software-defined networking that offers virtualized networking for heterogeneous infrastructure environments and clouds.

In touting this deal, VMware CTO and SVP of R&D Steve Herrod fearlessly says that when Nicira is integrated with VMware's current networking team and technologies, "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."

Outgoing VMware CEO Paul Maritz frames SDN as another important component in VMware's role as a data center automation business, telling analysts, "To be in the data center automation business, one has to be able to speak to the automation of all the key functions in the data center. So having the ability to play in the software-defined networking space, we see as very important when you combine it with our traditional strength in server virtualization and management."

Herrod also notes that Nicira has a legacy of network virtualization for heterogeneous hypervisor and cloud environments, and has been a major contributor to networking capabilities of other hypervisors (via the Open vSwitch community) as well as the Quantum Project, one of the key subsystems of OpenStack.

Addressing skeptics who may fear that VMware may not maintain support of non-VMware hypervisors and clouds, Herrod declares, "We are absolutely committed to maintaining Nicira's openness and bringing additional value and choices to the OpenStack, CloudStack, and other cloud-related communities," adding that this deal builds on the recent acquisition of DynamicOps, which provides cloud automation solutions for heterogeneous environments.

VMware continues to assemble the pieces required to fulfill its lofty vision of the cloud. The addition of Nicira is a major move in that direction.

Posted by Bruce Hoard on 07/25/2012 at 12:48 PM


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