Cisco in for a virtual fight

VMware lines up big allies for its Nicira network virtualization platform

VMware is lining up a Who's Who of networking vendors to take on partner/rival Cisco in network virtualization and SDNs. At its VMWorld conference this week, the company announced that Juniper, Arista, HP, Dell and Brocade are supporting integration with VMware's NSX network virtualization platform, obtained from last year's $1.26 billion acquisition of start-up Nicira.

HP, the No. 2 switch vendor to Cisco in terms of revenue, says it will federate its own Virtual Application Networks SDN Controller with the VMware's NSX to offer customers an integrated way to automate the orchestration of physical and virtual data center network infrastructure through interoperable policies and centralized view and control. The HP controller will support VMware's Open vSwitch Database management protocol to enable HP switches to be provisioned by VMware's NSX.

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Centralized visibility will be enabled through a new HP application that runs on its SDN controller, called ConvergedControl. ConvergedControl works with HP's Intelligent Management Center, which is already integrated with VMware's vCenter management software.

Dell said it is also supporting VMware's NSX controller and vCenter deployments with its new S6000 high-density 10/40G switch. The S6000 includes hardware accelerated Layer 2 gateway functionality to the VMware NSX controller for bridging traffic between virtualized and physical environments.

Dell also demonstrated an upcoming feature for its Active Fabric Manager 2.0 software that includes a command line interface for VMware's vSphere Distributed Switch. This is designed to allow customers to configure both physical and virtual fabric switches with common design templates and command line syntax.

Juniper is also offering Layer 2 gateway functionality with NSX for programmatic connectivity between virtual and physical networks. Juniper says it will add these services to its EX and QFX switches, and MX routers in about a year.

Juniper is also adding hardware-accelerated VXLAN routing on MX routers and EX9200 switches around that time too. This is designed to support multitenancy and business continuity/disaster recovery by routing traffic between virtual networks within or between data centers.

Juniper says it will also provide a plug-in for its Junos Space Network Director to enable integrated virtual/physical management with VMware vCenter; and is working on integration of its virtual security products with NSX.

And add Brocade to the list of those also developing gateway functionality for NSX. Its VCS Gateway for NSX will feature integrated VXLAN support on the ASICs of its VDX switches for high performance multitenancy and physical/virtual network interconnection, including links to bare metal servers, physical storage and specialized network service hardware.

Brocade is also developing a version of its SAN Analytics Management Pack for vCenter. This will send health and performance metrics from Brocade SANs into vCenter for identifying SAN bottlenecks and improving application performance monitoring.

Lastly, Arista said it also collaborated with VMware to enable its switches to integrate with NSX through a hardware-based gateway to connect non-virtualized servers and existing VLANs with the virtual infrastructure.

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