Yet another day of massive news with today’s blast coming from VMware who are acquiring Nicira, a five year old veteran of software defined networking (SDN). This follows closely on the heels of VMware’s acquisition of DynamicOps, a heterogeneous cloud management tools and really speaks to VMware’s view on a future that is far from siloed.

In a post announcing the deal, Steve Herrod points out that Nicira does for networking what VMware have been doing for data centers – that is abstracting the physical hardware away from the user and offering up an isolated (logically rather than physically) collection of compute, storage, networking and security resources.

As Herrod points out, the move to simplification of virtualizing machines has resulted in organizations being able to spin up virtual instances almost effortlessly. The network aspects however haven’t followed pace and provisioning the networks that back up these virtual machines is still a slow and laborious process. Add to that the fact that traditional physical networking limits the actually mobility that one can achieve from all these virtual servers – and it becomes obvious that there is an opportunity to tie virtual networking in with these virtual servers.

To this end, SDN virtualizes networks – analogous to machine virtualization is decouples the logical perspective on the network away from the physical embodiment of the network itself. Thus is enabled an on-demand creation of virtual networks to tie to the array of virtual machines.


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. With Nicira, organizations will be able to manage and virtualize all of their assets – VMware and non, physical and logical.It is interesting to note that Nicira has been a major contributor to Quantum, one of the component parts of OpenStack.

VMware is quick to ensure people that this change to more open approaches is one they are making on a permanent basis. per Herrod;

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 Nicira’s openness and bringing additional value and choices to the OpenStack, CloudStack, and other cloud-related communities. It’s worth noting that this builds upon the openness delivered by our other recent acquisition of DynamicOps, a leader in cloud automation solutions for heterogeneous environments. It also builds upon our experience with the SpringSource community as well as our stewardship of the CloudFoundry Open Platform as a Service Project.

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 they’re making a smart bet which will pay off royally.

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Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

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