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VMware blends in Nicira SDN technology, reveals public cloud plans

VMware today announced it will integrate software-defined networking (SDN) technology it acquired from Nicira into its vCloud suite, while also unveiling plans for a new hybrid cloud service that in reality will provide customers with a VMware-powered public cloud.

The two pieces of news are each significant, but not totally surprising. After VMware spent $1.2 billion last fall to purchase Nicira, industry watchers expected the company to integrate the startup's technology into the VMware platform. The public cloud news has been rumored for weeks; VMware even confirmed media reports that it was launching a public cloud via Twitter, but then deleted the update.

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VMware is scant on details of the hybrid cloud offering that it will launch later this year, but Forrester analyst James Staten wrote in a blog post titled "VMware takes the cover off its public cloud" that the company all but launched an infrastructure as a service (IaaS) offering without calling it that. The service will compete against the giants of the IaaS industry: Amazon Web Services (AWS), IBM Enterprise SmartCloud, HP Cloud and Rackspace, Staten says.

VMware is using the term "hybrid cloud" instead of "public cloud" to "set expectations about how enterprises should view the solution," Staten says. VMware wants customers to think of the public cloud as an extension of their existing VMware operations. The company has in the past delivered public cloud offerings to customers through its vCloud Director vendor partners, but this announcement would provide a VMware-operated public cloud.

VMware also tapped an outside public cloud executive to oversee its new hybrid cloud division. Former IaaS provider Savvis CEO Bill Fathers will lead VMware's newest hybrid and public cloud efforts.

The Nicira technology integration is expected to launch in the second half of this year under the new name of VMware NSX. It will combine Nicira's Network Virtualization Platform with VMware vCloud Network and Security product line. "VMware NSX will represent the full potential of network virtualization by working across VMware and non-VMware hypervisors and cloud management systems, as well as any underlying networking hardware," the company wrote in a press release.

The technology works by using a central VMware NSX controller, which manages vSwitches that sit in hypervisors across the distributed network of x86 infrastructure, VMware VP of Network and Security Hatem Naguib describes in a blog post.

Network World senior writer Brandon Butler covers cloud computing and social collaboration. He can be reached at BButler@nww.com and found on Twitter at @BButlerNWW.


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