HP At VMworld: New VMware NSX SDN OEM, Nvidia Virtual Graphics Relationship

Hewlett-Packard on Monday unveiled a plan to extend its software-defined networking capabilities via a new OEM and reseller agreement with VMware.

HP also said it is partnering with Nvidia to tie the VMware Horizon virtual desktop solution, the Nvidia Grid technology for graphics-accelerated virtual desktop, and HP's OneView management software to provide the ability to virtualize graphics processing in virtual desktop environments.

Both new partnerships were unveiled at VMworld, being held this week in San Francisco.

[Related: NexGen Cloud: Pressure To Adopt Software-Defined Data Center Tech Mounting]

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Under the agreement, HP, which has a long OEM relationship with VMware for the latter's server virtualization technology, will combine VMware's NSX software-defined networking, or SDN, technology with HP's FlexFabric networking technology, said Paul Miller, HP's vice president of marketing for converged data center infrastructure.

"We will federate their NSX with our FlexFabric 5930 switch to give seamless integrated technology that spans both physical and virtualized environments," Miller told CRN. "This will help customers as they migrate towards software-defined data centers, and not force them to jump in all at once."

Having a physical network under the VMware NSX SDN technology is important, said John Gray, marketing leader for HP's data center networking business.

"It's rare for customers to have an all-virtualized data center," Gray told CRN. "They still have a lot of physical infrastructure. That's why we're taking the federated approach."

While the HP FlexFabric 5930, which was introduced just a year ago, will be the first to get certified under HP's new NSX OEM partnership, HP will bring NSX across its entire FlexFabric line over time, Gray said.

"It's not a hardware issue," he said. "We just need to get the equipment certified. This will also be a software upgrade for existing 5930s."

Dan Molina, chief technology officer at Nth Generation Computing, a San Diego-based solution provider and longtime HP and VMware channel partner, told CRN via email that he has been hearing rumors that HP might do more with VMware NSX.

"As far as I know, HP already OEMs or provides HP SKUs for most of VMware’s software, but NSX has been noticeably missing. HP has already been offering 'SDN-enabled' switches (with OpenFlow APIs) for quite some time now, along with their HP SDN 'App Store,' an 'SDN VAN Controller (VAN = Virtual Applications Network) and the respective SDN Developer Kit (SDK)," Molina wrote.

Molina said he was happy to finally see the deal come together.

"Combining VMware NSX and HP’s SDN offerings makes a very powerful solution that spans both the physical and virtual layers enabling customers to simplify their overall SDN lifecycle even more -- great combo solution!" he wrote.

In its new agreement with Santa Clara, Calif.-based Nvidia, HP is looking to bridge the gap between virtual desktop users' desire for low-end graphics for mundane everyday tasks and for high-end graphics when needed, Miller said.

"Before, for virtual desktops, you would need to pin or lock a graphical CPU to a user or a process," he said. "Now you can apply policies so there's no need to assign a video process to a user depending on whether he or she is a task user or needs high-end graphs."

Most users are not either task users or high-performance users, Miller said. "They may do a lot of emails during the day, but then need to review videos that colleagues are developing," he said. "Now businesses can build an optimized environment to allow variable experiences by virtualizing the graphical processor. Customers get the amount of video experience needed without paying too much."

HP also used this week's VMworld conference to introduce the Converged Architecture 700, a new program that provides a reference architecture for enterprise-class workloads including Microsoft Exchange, Lync, SharePoint, and SQL; HP's Helion cloud; and both Citrix and VMware virtual desktop infrastructure offerings, Miller said.

The Converged Architecture 700 combines the HP ConvergedSystem 700 converged infrastructure solution with the applications and with HP OneView management solution to manage compute, storage and networking resources, and integrate with VMware management software, he said.

HP also introduced new HP consulting services include services for NSX, VMware, Converged Architecture 700, virtual desktop infrastructure including virtualized Nvidia graphics processors, and education and training, he said.