VMworld 2013 Networking Wrap-up

After three action packed days at VMworld meeting with VMware and walking the expo floor, I now find myself reflecting on all those meetings while flying home. Overall, VMworld continues to impress--the attendance grew once again, with about 22,500 in attendance, and many of the sessions were either standing room only or overcapacity. Clearly organizations continue to see value in attending and the appeal is extending beyond just server virtualization. As VMware looks to expand its virtualization footprint to networking and storage, build out management capabilities, and host a public cloud, the show will attract IT staff from those domains as well.

As I had expected prior to the show and reported last week, networking played a major role in this year’s event. The big announcement was around VMware’s NSX and its ecosystem of network partners. There were 20 partners highlighted that spanned network infrastructure, network, and security services. This list of partners included HP, Dell, Silver Peak, Cumulus, F5, Juniper, Citrix, Fortinet, Arista, McAfee, Symantec, Trend Micro, Palo Alto Networks, Riverbed, RSA, Catbird, Brocade, Alert Logic, and Rapid 7. However, the most noticeable name was the one not on the list – Cisco.

The ecosystem is important because in theory it should better enable complete solutions for those customers looking to deploy NSX. VMware was quick to highlight that this was not a Barney ecosystem (For those without kids, Barney was the big purple dinosaur that sings “I love you, You love me…” you get the point), but rather each company had to demonstrate interoperability prior to the announcement. Just walking around the show floor quickly, I was able to see working demonstrations from Brocade and Silver Peak and I am sure there were others. The ability to provide these solutions for integration with the physical network, WAN optimization, application delivery controllers, and security should help to accelerate the adoption of the VMware NSX network virtualization solution.

Other things I found interesting included:

The NSX described as a network hypervisor (yes, it is still a controller and virtual switch for all you networking folks). Given the audience--mostly server virtualization technologists--it made a lot of sense to describe it in a way that was very familiar to them (I like to refer to this as the principle of least astonishment). As they expand virtualization technologies into networking and storage, using terms they are familiar with should help to accelerate familiarity with the concept and potentially accelerate adoption. (However, this may also prompt the need for a server-networking translation dictionary if it goes too far.)

New FC integration with vCenter Operations. Despite the rumors declaring Fibre Channel dead, it appears to be doing quite well. In fact, Brocade’s last earnings call highlighted strong growth in FC and at the show they demonstrated the integration of FC into VMware vCOPS. Remember that for quite a while VMware only supported FC for networked storage, so there is a huge install base with FC supporting virtual server environments.

The TechTarget Best of VMworld network virtualization award went to… PlumGrid. Yup, you can put this in the category of “I didn’t see that coming,” especially with the major NSX announcement this year, but good for them. They have solid technology and early reports from the field indicate interest in the solution – certainly the editors at TechTarget like it. The award should give them some much needed public awareness, which they will need when competing against the VMware sales force and its newly formed ecosystem of partners.

Topics: Storage IT Infrastructure Networking VMworld Cloud Services & Orchestration