Virtualization Changes Networking
“I’ve often seen a cat without a grin,” thought Alice; “but a grin without a cat! It’s the most curious thing I ever saw in my life!”
– Alice In Wonderland
Networking is software. Nothing proves this fact more concretely than network virtualization.
I made this point to a Wall Street analyst the other day. As I described how effective Vyatta software is at networking, it put him back on his heels. He was surprised at first, but as a strong Linux follower he quickly regained his balance as he realized why it made sense. Then I described how Vyatta has been virtualized since day one, and he tipped backward again. Why not, I asked? We’re a software company, and the V-word naturally follows. In fact the virtualized version of Vyatta Community Edition makes up a hefty portion of our total downloads. And by the way, we already run in the Amazon cloud.
That’s when he fell completely over.
Conceptually, it’s an easy thing to grasp. When applications are physically spread out, a physical network connects them. When apps are virtualized, a virtual network connects them. It just makes sense. After all, the reason for going with virtual machines is to get much better hardware utilization and flexibility. So why tether your new-world VMs to an old-world network? That would be like choosing immobility as a form of transportation.
IT architectures are moving forward, and that includes the network. Vyatta is a trendsetter in this area, running today on VMware, Citrix XenServer, XenSource, Microsoft Hyper-V, and Linux KVM. In addition, the introduction of vSwitch capabilities by others takes the virtualized networking movement even farther.
The implications of this architectural evolution are huge. Imagine absorbing racks of networking gear into a few powerful, inexpensive x86 servers. Picture it: more space, fewer cables, less energy and heat. And the flexibility! Spin up networking VMs as you need them. Create firewalls between applications virtually, segment traffic easily, add expensive VPN capability without the proprietary expense… the list goes on.
The benefits of virtualized networking are certainly not limited to the datacenter. Many users run Vyatta as a VM on a shared server in branch offices. Run it next to a virtual print server, a virtual PBX, virtual email server… the phrase “branch in a box” comes to mind. Imagine the benefits of eliminating entire classes of hardware devices.
And ultimately, virtual networking belongs in the cloud. Maybe it’s Amazon’s, maybe it’s your virtual private cloud. Either way, virtualized networking will play a central role.
So yes, virtualization changes networking. Networking is software. And Vyatta is at the forefront.