VMware CTO Sets Sights On Hadoop, Network Virtualization Challenges


As server and storage virtualization become standard in the data center, Apache Hadoop and software defined networking are looming as VMware's next big challenges.

Hadoop, an open-source big data platform for developing and deploying distributed, data-intensive applications, is one of several emerging workloads that VMware believes can run better in a virtual environment. Earlier this month, VMware launched an open-source project called Serengeti that includes a free deployment toolkit for deploying a Hadoop cluster on vSphere.

"We are spending lot of time looking at up-and-coming application types that might not have been thought of as the ideal thing to run on top of virtualization. One of these things is Hadoop," VMware CTO Steve Herrod told CRN in an interview last week.

[Related: Fed-Up VMware Fires Back At Microsoft's Virtualization Trash Talk]

Hadoop is usually deployed and operated in standalone clusters, but it is complex to set up and contain a single point of failure, according to Herrod. VMware can address these weaknesses with its high-availability and fault-tolerance capabilities, and Serengeti makes it easier to create and deploy a Hadoop cluster on virtual infrastructure, he said.

"The bigger promise -- if you are actually running this on the shared, virtualized infrastructure -- is that your Hadoop cluster can come and go and get larger and smaller, very easily," Herrod said. "That makes it easier to roll out."

Herrod said software defined networking, also known as network virtualization, will be another major focus at VMworld in September. VMware came late to this game, but in April announced its sponsorship of the Open Networking Research Center, an SDN-focused group that includes the participation of Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley.

Virtualizing the network layer is seen as a way to address bottlenecks that stand in the way of broader cloud computing adoption. But this is a big shift for VMware and its channel partners, one that will require technical certifications, training and education on the new operational model that software defined networking represents, Herrod said.

"We realize that many customers might have the technical capability to build out these new systems. But, you have organizational changes and process changes that are equally important," he said.

Last year at VMworld, VMware unveiled VXLAN (Virtual Extensible Local Area Network), a project that uses software to "untie" virtual machines from their physical networks, allowing them to be moved freely across network boundaries. Cisco, Arista, Broadcom, Brocade, Emulex and Intel are also taking part in VXLAN.

This year, VMware will announce software defined data center products and partnerships that underscore its commitment to this fast emerging segment of the market, Herrod said.

"We’re trying to provide a solution that will fit existing data centers and not require you to throw out everything," Herrod said. "We might have been a little bit behind [in software defined networking], but we're definitely in a very strong position to take it forward in the data center."

PUBLISHED JUNE 25, 2012