VMware plays up network virtualization momentum in 2014

VMware NSX is in use by several major global brands, along with three of the top five investment banks

VMware recently announced what it described as a very strong finish in Q4, ending the company's 2013 fiscal year on a high note. VMware's total revenue for 2013 was $5.2 billion, up 17 percent (excluding Pivotal and divestitures) year over year.

With a strong performance in Q4 and in 2013 as a whole, VMware stated on the company's earnings call that it has accelerated growth and are well positioned for a strong 2014. Part of the company's acceleration and positioning can be attributed by an eye to the future with VMware NSX in mind, the company's network virtualization platform. The company will also continue to focus its strategic priorities across the software-defined data center (SDDC) and hybrid cloud.

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If you've spent any time over the last few months at a cloud trade show or a VMware event, chances are you've already been bombarded with the SDN acronym. Software-defined networking and network virtualization are hot topics right now, and it's evident from VMware's latest financial announcement that the company expects a significant uptick in its adoption this year.

What exactly are we talking about here?

SDN allows administrators to manage network services through abstraction of lower-level functionality. SDN enables agile management of network traffic by decoupling the control plane from the underlying data plane. A protocol such as OpenFlow is used to promote communication between the two.

As VMware describes it, NSX will virtualize the network and will deliver the entire networking and security model from L2 through L7 in software. The platform decouples the network from the underlying hardware, yet takes advantage of the existing network infrastructure without changes to enable new levels of service delivery speed, agility, and cost reductions.

VMware's approach to network virtualization enables data center operators to treat their physical network as a pool of transport capacity that can be consumed and repurposed on demand. VMware NSX virtual networks can be programmatically provisioned and managed, utilizing the underlying physical network as simple IP connectivity. And VMware NSX provides a platform that is built around a controller cluster that manages the distribution of logical network functions into hypervisors throughout the data center.

The goal here is to allow data center operators to leverage VMware NSX to be able to provision complex, multitier virtual networks quickly and independent of the underlying topology or network components.

The virtualization giant believes that network virtualization with VMware NSX will be a key enabler for the software-defined data center. Carl Eschenbach, president and chief operating officer at VMware, told investors, "In 2013, VMware took big steps to present a vision for the future of the data center and the transformation of the network." In 2014, the company expects to see an accelerated pace of network virtualization adoption as companies move from consideration to decision on the software-defined data center.

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