From an end-user perspective, thats a good thing if Cisco is being pushed to add SDN features more quickly and if VMware advances the Nicira technology, says Kyle Hilgendorf, a Gartner cloud analyst. He hears from frustrated customers frequently about the lag that the networking layer can have on cloud deployments.
Meanwhile, Niciras ability to work with multiple hypervisors and give customers choice in their cloud offerings is important, too. Some customers are starting to consider what options exist beyond VMware, says Hilgendorf. If they dont offer customers a way to expand and use other hypervisor formats, that could give them trouble in the long-term.
VMwares recently announced buyout of DynamicOps is also a hedge against customers feeling locked in. DynamicOp is a cloud management company that specializes in working across different providers and hypervisor platforms.
Nicira could also give VMware some credibility in open source given that Nicira employees work closely with the Open vSwitch open source project licensed under the Apache Software Foundation. Nicira also has been one of the main contributors to OpenStacks virtual networking project named Quantum, which is set to take a more prominent role in the next release of the OpenStack code this fall. VMware has traditionally been seen as a company offering proprietary software that works within its ecosystem, but not as well with competing platforms (though its Cloud Foundry platform as a service (Paas) offering is one recent open source effort).
VMwares Herrod addressed the issue in the blog: I can imagine skepticism as to whether we will continue this substantial embrace of non-VMware hypervisors and clouds. Let me be clear in this blog& we are absolutely committed to maintaining Niciras openness and bringing additional value and choices to the OpenStack, CloudStack, and other cloud-related communities.
Martin Casado, CTO of Nicira, was equally deliberate in his blog post announcing the deal: The cloud is about openness. Openness is in our roots, and it will stay there, he wrote.
Some analysts say theyre curious to see how VMware plays in the open source world. SDN makes sense on so many levels, but what is interesting about this deal is the fact that it comes from VMware, a company that is rapidly reinventing itself from the evil empire of silos and lock-in, and moving to a world that embraces choice DynamicOps was the start of this, Nicira continues it, says Ben Kepes an industry analyst and blogger at Diversity, Ltd. In paying over $1B for the company, VMware is betting a lot on a more open, more heterogeneous and more virtualized future. All indications are that theyre making a smart bet which will pay off royally.
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