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Are enterprises ready for network virtualisation?

Brandon Butler | Aug. 27, 2013
Some service providers are already jumping on board, but how far until the enterprise takes a serious look at this potentially game-changing technology?

Not every company will experience the pains that virtual networking will help solve though, he adds; even today there are enterprises that have yet to virtualize their compute layer and still run on mainframes or bare metal servers. As companies adopt private clouds in their data centers, as virtual machine density increases and network demands become more dynamic, this technology will make more and more sense, Casemore says.  

Vice president of engineering at hosting and cloud provider LogicWorks Jason McKay says the company has been in production with a virtual networking environment for months as part of VMware's beta program for NSX. "Networking is absolutely central to what we do," he says. As a service provider, the company creates customized, right-sized dedicated networks for customers, so this virtual networking technology has dramatically eased the management of creating and maintaining networks for customers, he says. "We're constantly bringing up new clients," he says. "Clients are expanding, bringing in new applications, so for us the network is very much a moving target. You can see how network virtualization would play right into that."

On the enterprise side, things are moving a little more slowly. Steve Morris is an engineer with Cloud Fusion Ltd., a consultancy in England that works specifically with the financial services industry. "There's a lot of appetite for virtual networking, but it's a bit like the early days of server virtualization: Everyone recognizes it a good thing, but they're a little apprehensive about how to use it," he says.

He recently installed some virtual networking features mostly virtual LANs for a leading English financial services company who was looking to ramp up the company's creation of new applications. Miller says he discussed an even broader deployment across the organization, but he felt the technology was too limiting to implement it. The firewalling, load balancing and other higher-level networking functions just weren't at a maturity point where it could be considered for a larger-scale deployment.

As part of the release of NSX platform, Casado says that virtual firewalling and load balancing features are included, while enhancements to these features and other higher-level networking services are on the road map for the product down the line.

Casemore, the IDC analyst, says one other thing that will be just as important as the technology maturing is the comfort level of IT practitioners. Virtual networking requires networking teams to work more closely with the server infrastructure managers and application handlers. Breaking down those IT silos to have a more converged IT strategy is not something that happens overnight.


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