Informed CIO: SDN and Server Virtualization on a Collision Course

Feb 19, 2013


Informed CIO: SDN and Server Virtualization on a Collision Course

The fusion of virtual servers and networks joins two of IT’s hottest and most transformative ­technologies: hypervisor management platforms/private cloud stacks and software-defined ­networks. This technological union likewise juxtaposes the server virtualization and ­network equipment ­markets in a way that’s creating both new alliances and competitive tensions — a dramatic example is VMware’s blockbuster deal to buy fledgling SDN startup Nicira.

It may seem premature to talk about united virtual compute and network resources using untested and rapidly changing SDN technology. Indeed, judging by our InformationWeek surveys, most IT teams aren’t yet familiar with SDN basics, nor do they have much understanding of vendors’ various strategies. That’s understandable; many of the biggest names in networking haven’t been exactly forthcoming. Juniper, for example, just revealed its strategy in mid-January and is still stingy with product specifics.

The best way to grasp the strategies and components shaping the coming omni-virtualized data center is to analyze them by technology segment. Our classification scheme breaks SDN in two: products designed to manage L2 switching and traffic flows and those aiming to programmatically control network applications, services and configurations. Add in server virtual machine management platforms and you have a ­three-ring circus. We examine the state of each of these segments and outline how vendors from every corner of the IT marketplace propose integrating them into what VMware calls the “software-defined data center.” (6540312)





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