Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Cloud: The Sky is Not the Limit, The Network Is

The inherent mobility benefit you get from a virtualized infrastructure is driving IT shops, large and small, to take virtualization to the next level to begin to deliver dynamic IT services to the business. At the server and storage layers, we've seen a lot of innovation and tight integration between the various virtualization software and storage vendors. However, at the network layer, the integration gets much trickier to truly deliver on the promise of virtual machine mobility. Today, key network settings like QoS, ACLs and VLANs only allow policies to be applied at the physical port level. Whereas in a virtual environment, policies need to be applied to workloads at the virtual machine layer to enable networks to extend out to the VM boundary.

No doubt, the next big innovation coming is in the network layer in order to gain visibility at the upper layers of the software stack, and automate core network services that are largely manual, and labor-intensive today.

Cisco is ahead of the curve in this regard. They have worked closely with VMware on VN-Link to begin to deliver on the promise of VM-aware networking. I suspect we'll soon be hearing more from other established players like Brocade, Juniper, F5, and networking start-ups such as Arista Networks.

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