Cisco has responded to the groundswell of momentum and support around the introduction of VMware's NSX network virtualization platform this week with a laundry list of the limitations of software-only based network virtualization. At the same time, Cisco said it intends to collaborate further with VMware, specifically around private cloud and desktop virtualization, even as its partner lines up a roster of allies among Cisco's fiercest rivals.
Cisco's response was delivered here, in a blog post from Chief Technology and Strategy Officer Padmasree Warrior.
[WILL IT WORK? Will VMware's big gamble on network virtualization pay off?]
In a nutshell, Warrior says software-only based network virtualization will leave customers with more headaches and hardships than a solution that tightly melds software with hardware and ASICs - the type of network virtualization Cisco proposes:
A software-only approach to network virtualization places significant constraints on customers. It doesn't scale, and it fails to provide full real-time visibility of both physical and virtual infrastructure. In addition this approach does not provide key capabilities such as multi-hypervisor support, integrated security, systems point-of-view or end-to-end telemetry for application placement and troubleshooting. This loosely-coupled approach forces the user to tie multiple 3rd party components together adding cost and complexity both in day-to-day operations as well as throughout the network lifecycle. Users are forced to address multiple management points, and maintain version control for each of the independent components. Software network virtualization treats physical and virtual infrastructure as separate entities, and denies customers a common policy framework and common operational model for management, orchestration and monitoring.
Warrior then went on to tout the benefits of the Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI), a concept introduced by Cisco spin-in Insieme Networks at the Cisco Live conference two months ago. ACI combines hardware, software and ASICs into an integrated architecture that delivers centralized policy automation, visibility and management of both physical and virtual networks, etc., she claims.
Warrior also shoots down the comparison between network virtualization and server virtualization, which is the foundation of VMware's existence and success. Servers were underutilized, which drove the need for the flexibility and resource efficiency promised in server virtualization, she writes.
Not so with networks. Networks do not have an underutilization problem, she claims:
In fact, server virtualization is pushing the limits of today's network utilization and therefore driving demand for higher port counts, application and policy-driven automation, and unified management of physical, virtual and cloud infrastructures in a single system.
Warrior ends by promising some "exciting news" around ACI in the coming months. Perhaps at Interop NYC in late September/early October? Cisco CEO John Chambers was just added this week to the keynote lineup at the conference. He usually appears at these venues when Cisco makes a significant announcement that same week...
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