So-called overlay solutions such as NSX can set up virtual tunnels across a network but don't automatically configure the switches and other gear that make up the network, Mayer said. Networks are constantly changing, with different configurations and new users contending for resources, so overlay systems can suffer from "blind spots," she said. That makes it harder to make the network deliver the level of service that an application demands.
HP's controller adds an "underlay" that has access to everything going on in the physical network. Working in conjunction with NSX, it will help to make tunnels work as they need to, Mayer said.
Also on Monday, Juniper announced an expansion of its partnership with VMware to let customers tie its infrastructure more tightly with VMware technologies. The work will include a VMware NSX Layer 2 Gateway function, for connectivity between virtualized and non-virtualized parts of a network. The gateway function will be available for a variety of core, aggregation and access switches and edge routers in mid-2014. Other features will include hardware acceleration of VXLAN routing, also due in mid-2014, and closer integration with Juniper's virtual security technologies.