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Sunday
Sep142008

Valovic on Cisco's Approach to Virtualization

Tom Valovic posts a column in advance of VMworld announcements.  I like his critique of "network virtualization 2.0."   

I do agree with the statement: '... the dynamic data center is going to need to have all of these “resource
pools” work interactively and flexibly as system requirements change on
a daily or even hourly basis. The network, obviously, is an important
but often underestimated link in this holistic value chain.'

But, as for Cisco's VFrame as having an important role?  No, I don't think VFrame's going to be a starter.  Cisco has, with the re-absorbtion of Nuovo and the imminent additions to the Nexus switch family, a different potential path to take.  I believe that we'll see one show up this week as a fully virtualized distributed switch as part of the Nexus family.

I heartily concur with the sentiment on which he concludes:  "The network, obviously, is an important but often underestimated link in this holistic value chain."  Right.  It's an important, vital aspect of a holistic view of the next generation, virtualized datacenter. 

Virtualization Review | Valovic on Virtualization: Cisco’s Approach to Virtualization

...
As discussed in my last Cisco blog, there’s really a bright dividing line between doing network virtualization (NV) 1.0 via VLANs, VSANs, and other products, many associated with the Catalyst line of network switches and what I’ve somewhat unimaginatively called NV 2.0.

NV 2.0 (my construction) appears currently to consist of a ragbag of disparate elements. There’s I/O virtualization along the lines of what Neterion, 3Leaf, and Xsigo are doing -- basically products designed to virtualize NICs or HBAs and offering what is essentially dynamic provisioning of I/O capacity. Cisco does not currently have an offering in this market.

Other NV 2.0 products appear to be being developed specifically to support other types of virtualization such as server virtualization by basically making the supporting network more flexible. When we look at all of the resources in a data center being virtualized (i.e. servers, storage, networks, and applications) then it’s easy to see how the NGDC is going to need flexibility at all these levels. Cisco’s VFrame product has an important role here.

In other words, the dynamic data center is going to need to have all of these “resource pools” work interactively and flexibly as system requirements change on a daily or even hourly basis. The network, obviously, is an important but often underestimated link in this holistic value chain. 

Bottom line: I’d like to see network virtualization mainly discussed in this context. In other words, as either a) existing or future products supporting other types of virtualization or b) existing or future products supporting the next generation data center or NGDC. Put another way, I’d like to see the water not get muddied by Cisco and other vendors claiming in effect: “we’ve been doing virtualization for years, what’s the big deal?”

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