VMware Takes Aim at Software Defined Networking and OpenFlow
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VMware helped to lead the revolution that has transformed the data center server space with virtual nodes of compute server infrastructure. Now VMware wants to lead the way in virtualizing networking. It's a movement that is aligned with the newly emerging trend of software defined networking (SDN) that enables programmable networks abstracting networking hardware.
Allwyn Sequeira, vice president and CTO of Security and Networking at VMware explained to InternetNews.com that it's not possible to scale physical networking hardware to meet the on-demand needs of modern virtualized applications. From a product and technology perspective, the Software Defined Data Center architecture involves applications and specification available now, as well as work that is coming. With server virtualization there is now the concept of one vSwitch per host and, in that context, a VLAN is how VMs are networked. VLANs traditionally have been limited in their ability to stretch across data center domains, which is where the VXLAN standard comes into play.
The VXLAN specification was initially proposed in September of 2011, and is a multi-vendor effort that includes VMware along with Cisco, Arista Networks, Citrix and Red Hat. The basic idea behind VXLAN is to have a Layer 2 abstraction for virtual machines so they are not restricted to a particular LAN boundary.
"VXLAN is the basis for us untethering ourselves from current network limitations," Sequeira said. "VXLAN is what enables end-to-end elasticity in the data center and allows you to build a software defined network."
When it comes to OpenFlow, in Sequeira's view there are a set of vendors that are now building monolithic stacks on top of the OpenFlow protocol, trying to establish control points. As such he expects that SDN silos will emerge over time that will require some form of federation to connect together.
"For us, SDN is a natural extension of our current product lines, extending what we already have for a VMware domain," Sequeira said. "When do we see a world when there is a VMware SDN working with an OpenFlow SDN? I don't think, that's in the cards."