Virtualization and cloud computing are threatening to make big iron networks obsolete. Software-defined networking, which eases the provision of applications and allows more flexible network management, is emerging as the alternative. VMware and Hewlett-Packard, in keynote presentations Wednesday at Interop 2012, outlined initiatives that promise to push SDN development forward.
Steve Herrod, VMware's CTO and senior vice president of R&D, said SDN is evolving and that VMware is readying what it calls a software-defined data center that takes advantage of VMware's leading role in virtualization and virtualization management.
Herrod said that with the cost-savings promised by cloud computing, enterprise CIOs are feeling pressure to revamp data centers that are now running on rigid, inflexible infrastructure.
"Anyone who has a data center that has been around for a while knows that it looks like a museum of past IT systems. This is a chance to change this and bring those silos down," Herrod said.
Virtualization is already at the forefront of change in data centers and can be used to administer and manage the centers. Virtualization software, he said, can be automatically and dynamically configured to manage application workloads and, in fact, virtualization already runs 60 percent of all applications.
"How do we allow different hardware and software solutions to work together in a software-defined data center?" Herrod asked. "We're creating an abstraction layer and a common interface to allow a lot of different things to come in."
Hewlett-Packard is also involved in software-defined networking, which will cut the time it takes to provision applications from weeks and months to minutes.
Bethany Mayer, senior vice president and general manager of HP Networking, said the company's Virtual Application Network, unveiled Monday, uses software-defined networking technologies such as OpenFlow, along with partner F5 Networks' application delivery network, and will let users manage their network infrastructure and their applications from a single dashboard.
"To get to the cloud you have to deploy applications quickly," she said. "Networks are very rigid. They are architectured for a single tenant -- the user," Mayer said. "Networks have to be architectured for more than one user -- for guests, for suppliers, many others."