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VMware: Drilling Down on vNetwork

You may have noticed I’ve been talking a lot about Cisco lately. A recent article in PC World talks about “Cisco fatigue”. I’m not sure what that is exactly but whatever it is, VMware doesn’t have it. The collaboration between Cisco and VMware is an especially interesting one because the two companies have a lot in common. The intellectual roots of both trace back to Stanford University and both are neighbors (Cisco in San Jose, VMware in Palo Alto).

This dynamic duo also has enormous amounts of technical talent to bring to bear on the complex problem of taking this elusive concept of the next-gen data center or NGDC a few steps closer to reality. (Is the end goal easier or harder than building and successfully running experiments on a supercollider? Probably the latter, but there’s less concern about the pesky problem of destroying the known universe by accident.)

It’s pretty clear that networking capabilities will be fundamental to the NGDC. As Cisco’s Ed Bugnion pointed out in his keynote at VMworld, there will have to be transparency between disparate resource pools and to do this the network will have to be as smart as the VM infrastructure itself.

The two most horizontally structured elements within the data center are networks and management systems. But in today’s highly heterogenous data center environments, both are still heavily siloed. Cisco likes to talk about a developing a “unified fabric” to address the network piece. And management is siloed by physical and virtual; by storage, server, and networking; by applications; by vendor solution; and other slices and dices. Given this fragmentation, the network will clearly have an interesting role to play as a “common denominator element”, consistent with Cisco’s SONA concept. While Sun used to trumpet that “The network is the computer”, Cisco’s latter-day refinement is “the network is the platform”.

Bottom line: VMware’s collaboration with Cisco is an important element in its overall strategy and in my opinion will serve both companies well going forward. Competitors such as Microsoft/Citrix and others appear to have nothing comparable in depth and scale in the works other than application delivery point solutions.

Agree or disagree? Let me know if you think I’ve had too many gulps of Cisco kool-aid at tvalovic@1105media.com.

Posted by Tom Valovic on 09/28/2008 at 12:49 PM


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