What will VMware virtualize next?By Lynn Greiner
VMware has been happily virtualizing the daylights out of servers for several years. It’s the market leader in the technology, and that tech drives the cloud. It’s a lovely position to be in.
There’s only one problem: what can they do for an encore?
Well, hey, how about virtualizing something else?
At the tenth annual VMworld conference last week, the company announced that it was spreading its wings and virtualizing storage and networks as well.
First up was Virtual SAN. What, you ask, is a Virtual SAN, given that SANs are pretty virtual creatures themselves? Well, it’s a cunning way to take advantage of that underused direct-attached storage (DAS) in servers. There may not be enough room on a single server to be useful, but extend the hypervisor to cluster a herd of them, pool the available storage and cache, stir in policies to automate provisioning, tuning, and management, and you suddenly have more storage for virtually no extra cost.
Virtual SAN is integrated with vSphere and vCenter, so you don’t have to cope with yet another tool.
Virtual SAN is in beta testing now; you can get it for free if you want to kick the tires. It’s expected to be released in the first half of next year with the public release of the next version of vSphere.
Next, VMware turned its attention to networking with the announcement of NSX. It creates what VMware calls a network hypervisor, pulling together the best of Nicira NVP and VMware vCloud Network and Security into a unified platform. In effect, it layers a software-generated network, from Layer 2 through Layer 7, on top of the physical network.
That soft network can do things the underlying hardware may not do. For example, a lot of network traffic in a virtual network is between VMs. But to shuttle data between VMs on the same host, the physical network has to hairpin the data, routing it out of the physical host and back in to the destination VM. NSX’s virtual network keeps the traffic inside the physical host, cutting down on the network load.
The core NSX offers virtual switching and routing, as well as a RESTful API for integration into any cloud management platform. But you can add virtual firewalls, load balancers and a logical VPN. And unlike physical networks, a virtual network offers the same benefits as a virtual machine: changes and additions are quick, and can be done on the fly. VMware says that over 20 partners are already working with the technology, including IBM, HP, and Dell.
VMware NSX is expected to be available in the fourth quarter of 2013.
About the Author
Lynn Greiner is a freelance journalist specializing in information technology and business topics. She is also an IT professional, giving her real-world experience that allows her to cut through the hype and address topics that are relevant in the business world. Her articles have been published in both print and online publications, including itWorld Canada, Computer Dealer News, CIO.com, DevSource, Canadian Security, ACM netWorker, Security Matters, GlobeTechnology.com, Canadian Technology and Business, InformIT, Computing Canada, and many others. Find her @LynnGr.
Author's Website: http://itwriter.com/
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