HP And VMware Promise Federated Network (Sooner Or Later)

Much like arch-rival Dell, HP has anted up to the high-stakes network virtualization horse race at this week’s VMworld, announcing plans to collaborate with VMware on the industry’s ‘first’ federated network solution that will provide customers unified automation of, and visibility into, their physical and virtual data center network. Already battered and bruised by Dell in the server and storage markets, HP appears ready to compete with it (and IBM) for second place in the enterprise networking market, behind Cisco.

Although not due to be available until the second half of next year, Steve Brar, Manager Global Product Marketing, HP Networking, called the HP-VMware solution the industry’s first federated networking solution in the data center to unify the physical and virtual networks. The company said it will provide a centralized view, unified automation, visibility and control of the complete data center network, improving agility, monitoring and troubleshooting.”We’re federating SDN with network virtualization.”

Brar said network virtualization solves the scalability issue. Also, customers are looking for simplicity. “That’s what our entire SDN strategy is being driven by… greater simplicity. This particular solution is going to be very compelling for our joint customers because it takes the power of network virtualization and combines it with the automation and agility that SDN can deliver.”

According to a prepared statement from Gartner analyst Joe Skorupa, “A hybrid model blends the device-based and the overlay models, transparently mixing physical and virtual devices under a common control plane. This approach promises a rapid time to value, support for bare-metal endpoints (servers, networking, security appliances and so forth) and a smooth migration to an optimal mix of endpoints.”

HP (and VMware) want to tap into the SDN market that will be worth $3.7B by 2016 (IDC), driven by the growing need for scalability and network programmability. While there is a lot of debate about the SDN road map and timetable, most everybody is like HP that it is at worst a question of when, not if SDN will become a major force in the networking landscape.

HP has been involved with SDN from the start, working with Stanford back in 2007 before SDN was SDN (Ethane). It has also been heavily involved with VMware, recently developing HP Smart Bundles for VMware with Operations Management (vSOM).

Unfortunately, not all relationships are destined to last (just ask HP ex-BFFs Cisco and Oracle). VMware may be partnering with HP now, but things could get interesting later in the SDDC, which is coveted by both companies. And it was just a few weeks ago that Chuck Hollis, Chief Strategist, VMware SAS BU, discussed his company’s future as a serious storage vendor. I’m not sure what that means for the parent company, but I somehow doubt that it was meant as a threat to EMC. However if I’m HP, Dell and the other storage vendors, I would be concerned.

Brar points to the HP and VMware partner ecosystems as examples of successful co-opetive models. “It really speaks to the strategy of building an open ecosystems. Our approach is to seek out partners that can combine with our solutions… (and that’s something customers like too), to see vendors coming together to develop solutions that address their needs.”

While Cisco is noticeably absent, the NSX partner list is impressive, including Openstack, Red Hat, Brocade, Dell, Broadcom, Juniper, Intel, Symantec, Trend Micro, McAfee; Riverbed, Silver Peak, Citrix and F5.

The Gory Details:

-HP-VMware networking solution, which will federate the HP Virtual Application Networks SDN Controller with the VMware NSX network virtualization platform and is expected to be available in the second half of 2014, will eliminate manual configuration of both the physical and virtual data center networks through interoperable automated orchestration of policies, and will also create a single view of the network, both physical and virtual; additionally, the controller will include support for VMware Open vSwitch Database (OVSDB) management protocol, enabling HP FlexFabric top-of-rack switches to participate in the automated provisioning of the virtual network, which will be delivered by VMware NSX network virtualization platform;

-HP ConvergedControl software application running on the HP Virtual Application Networks SDN controller, and also due out in the second half of 2014, will unify the visibility and control of the virtual and physical networks by leveraging the HP Intelligent Management Center (IMC), which is already integrated with VMware vCenter, creating a single point of control for both networks, while simplifying management; and,

-HP 5930 top-of-rack switch with built-in intelligence based on VXLAN technology, expected to be available in December, extends network virtualization to the servers, allowing customers to leverage their virtual and physical networks to work together as one entity.

HP Service announcements included:

-HP Datacenter Care for Networking provides clients with a single, environment-based relationship that can incorporate the HP-VMware networking solution into existing and future environments; and,

-SDN Connectivity Transformation Experience Workshop, which builds organizational alignment and an initiative road map for the client, taking into consideration SDN-enabled business benefits and risks.



Author: Steve Wexler

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