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?”


What will Cisco announce at VMworld?

Allen Leinwand makes an interesting prediction in GigaOM that Cisco will support VMware VMs on their networking hardware.  He then goes on to outline why it would be an important move for Cisco in their efforts to remain not only relevant, but central in the enterprise-class virtualized datacenter.  He also lays out some of the downside for enterprise customers -- most specifically the inability to leverate the Intel X86 server ecosystem to their complete advantage.

As I was pondering this, I noticed a "tweet" from Doug Gourlay (and I quote):

Allan Leinwand had a good guess on GigaOm, but not quite :). Keep 'em coming

OK, so that's "not quite" what Cisco has up its sleeve. 

What's my guess?  I don't think I have enough insight to put myself in the role of the product management powers-that-be at CSCO.  I'm not a network hardware guy.

What might make an interesting offer?  From my point of view, anything that Cisco can deliver that unifies the virtual network infrastructure now available within the VMware virtual machine environments and the physical (Cisco) server access network would be welcome. 

Hey... Where is that distributed virtual switch we heard about a little over a year ago?  Yeah... that would be interesting.  Oh, and while you're at it ... could you please make the virtual switch to which I associate VMs a "stackable" switch for the purpose of making network configuration for production computing more viable?

Well... hardly a prediction.  More a wishlist, isn't it?


I just saw this on the VMworld Underground site:

After the weekend the Nexsus 1000 will be launched by Cisco, this virtual switch has 255 ports and it's own IP-address.

Eric Sloof

Hmmm.  Be careful what you wish for!

Cisco to Support VMware? - GigaOM

Cisco Systems will support VMware virtual machines on their networking hardware? There’s buzz around Silicon Valley that there will be a big announcement made at VMworld next week in Las Vegas, and that’s my prediction as to what it will be. The integration of virtual machines and networking, which was signaled last year when Cisco invested heavily in VMware just prior to the virtualization company’s IPO, would have numerous ramifications, not only for the two companies, but the networking industry overall.

If my prediction comes true, it would help Cisco remain relevant in the data center, allowing it to do more than move IP packets between servers. It would also entrench the company into the enterprise, distancing themselves even further from the likes of Juniper Networks and 3Com, both of whom have struggled against Cisco to gain some toehold in the enterprise infrastructure marketplace.


VMware Studio... I gotcher OVF right here!

For all the news about the Citrix Project Kensho as well as the other approaches to cross-environment standards for virtual appliance description, VMware has been consistent and low-key in their support of OVF.  VMware Studio 1.0 seems to steal a bit of thunder from Kensho, but in the end it's clear that having all the "majors" working diligently toward a useful and viable OVF is a boon to the industry as a whole.

VMware Studio - VMware

VMware Studio 1.0 enables software developers and hardware appliance vendors to build customized virtual appliances that can be shipped in industry standard Open Virtualization Format (OVF). VMware Studio 1.0 provides convenient management features such as a web-based console with quick-start templates to streamline the authoring process of virtual appliances, and a command-line interface to enable the automation of management tasks and empower VMware Studio 1.0 to act as an extension of appliance vendors’ existing build and source control systems. VMware Studio 1.0 leverages the industry’s leading virtualization platform, VMware Infrastructure (VI), and offers built appliances all the great management services that VI delivers. VMware Studio 1.0 also allows virtual appliance vendors to periodically publish updates directly to the deployed appliances, thereby reducing the cost of ongoing maintenance and providing customers with higher quality software. VMware Studio 1.0 is available for free, click the download link below to get started.


Gartner's Tom Bittman on V12N & Cloud Computing

Tom Bittner, Gartner's VP and Chief of Research of Infrastructure and Operations, encapsulates the datacenter scenario of days gone by, and offers up a sense of how virtualization plays into the vision of cloud computing ... however one defines it.

Gartner: Virtualization Unlocks Cloud Computing

Bittner wasn't finished yet with highlighting the 'elastic' qualities of The Cloud:

"So what do we mean by this transformation? We believe that we are moving from a world where we manage components, we manage silos, we did resource management, we did capacity planning, we did performance management within silos. That's how we did things. Sometimes we put automation tools on top of those silos, but they were still silos. And what's happening is we're seeing a fairly major change here, as we move toward virtualization, where we're moving away from components and toward layers, and toward pools, and moving toward this kind of model we're much more elastic, we can do things a lot quicker than we used to be able to do them, but we are not done yet. By itself virtualization doesn't finish the story."

The key attributes of cloud computing that Bittner contends tie it to virtualization are services-orientation, utility pricing ("whether it's subsidized, or I pay for it based on use"), elasticity ("perhaps massive elasticity"), and that it is delivered over the Internet.


When exactly DOES Hyper-V get live migration?

I'm having a hard time consolidating and then parsing the announcements made by Microsoft today about Hyper-V server virtualization.  Besides the reduction in price for an analog to VMware's ESX 3i, they've announced live migration will arrive ... but it's not clear when.  According to, Mary Jo Foley at ZDNet seems to imply that hot server migration will appear with Windows Server 2008 R2 ... now officially slated to appear in 2010.

I can't quite connect the dots.  Can anyone provide clarity as to a likely timetable for the incorporation of live migration into Hyper-V? 

Microsoft sets Hyper-V free | Beyond Binary - A blog by Ina Fried - CNET News

Microsoft said on Monday that it now plans to offer its server virtualization product for free.

Ahead of a virtualization event in Redmond, Wash., Microsoft said that its Hyper-V Server 2008 will be released within 30 days and be available at no cost via the Web. The software maker had planned to charge $28 for the product.

Also on Monday, Microsoft plans to show off a live migration feature that will be part of the next version of its Hyper-V virtualization technology. Live migration allows companies to move a running virtual machine from one server to another.


Techworld's write up of the Hyper-V announcement seems to shed some light.  Based on this comment, Windows
Server 2008 R2 is due out in 2009, not 2010.  It's worth pointing out, however, that MSFT has already been willing to release initial versions of Hyper-V on a schedule that's seemingly independent of the Windows Server 2008 schedule.  I suppose there's a chance that it could, once again, establish a separate schedule for the release of Hyper-V live migration.

Neil Sanderson, head of virtualisation
for Microsoft UK said that the company had previously announced Hyper-V
as part of Microsoft Server 2008 but that is was now launching it as a
standalone product. In addition, he said, the company was dropping the
$28 (£16) fee that had been previously been announced for the
standalone version.

Sanderson acknowledged that Microsoft was
some way behind VMware but said that there was a low user base. "We're
still in the early days of virtualisation - IDC is predicting 25
percent of the market by 2010 - and there's still everything to play


But it's not just Hyper-V itself; Sanderson highlighted Virtual
Machine Manager as a product that will have quite an impact. The
management product will offer users support for VMware in addition to
Microsoft and Sanderson believes that is this interoperability that
will be key. "Microsoft has been working closely with the likes of
Novell and Citrix to ensure support for non-Microsoft technology."

Answering criticism that the absence of a live migration feature
would hinder the take-up of Hyper-V, Sanderson said that this was being
addressed and that a demo version of live migration would be featured
at the US launch. "We expect it to be included as part of Windows
Server 2008 R2 next year," he added.