VMware Goes Beyond Server Virtualisation

by Sohini Bagchi    Jul 25, 2012

VirtualizationPerhaps one of the most defining moments in the history of virtualisation is the VMware’s recent acquisition of Nicira by $1.26 billion. The day also holds a lot of importance for enterprise IT, because experts believe the future lies in Virtualisation - the technology that continues to demonstrate additional tangible benefits to business and broadens its value to the enterprise customers at every step.

According to the company this acquisition is a key component of VMware’s strategy to deliver the software-defined datacenter. However, while getting into the software-defined network (SDN) market, VMware has already secured its place in the future of computer networking.

A holistic approach to virtualisation

VMware has been the leader in the server virtualisation space for the last couple of years. However, by acquiring Nicira, it now has the possibility to dominate more or less the entire gamut of virtualisation: compute and networking. Apart from network virtualisation, the acquisition is also expected to broaden VMware’s support for open standards.

According to Steve Herrod, CTO, VMware, “Network virtualisation is the next logical step in virtualising the datacenter. While a virtual machine can be provisioned in minutes, setting up the networking can require the configuration of thousands of routers and switches. Nicira addresses this by enabling customers to build a virtual networking layer.”

Herrod said that Nicira will be integrated into Vmware’s existing virtual networking team, and the combined company will continue to back both the STT protocol and VXLAN.

In this context, one should not ignore the mere size of the acquisition. Nicira, a 5-year old Silicon Valley startup calls itself the world’s first network virtualisation company that is capable of addressing customer needs beyond server virtualisation and can also benefit virtualising the network layer of the data center.

This explains why VMware’s acquisition of Nicira is a strategic step in the gradual evolution of the company.

The future is open

Nicira could also give VMware an edge in the open source area given the formers domain expertise in open source projects that are licensed under the Apache Software Foundation. It needs to be mentioned Nicira also has been one of the main contributors to OpenStack’s virtual networking project named Quantum which will be released in the next couple of months.

Before the acquisition, VMware has traditionally been seen as a company offering proprietary software with the exception of its Cloud Foundry platform as a service (Paas) offering, which is its recent open source effort. Martin Casado, CTO of Nicira, announced in his blog “The cloud is about openness. Openness is in our roots, and it will stay there.” And this is definitely an icing on the cake.

The way VMware is going about in the virtualisation space in interesting. The company has realised that Virtualisation is way beyond merely creating virtual servers. To woo the enterprise customers, it should have a holistic approach that should encompass the entire software stack.
And with the acquisition of Nicira now, VMware can have a stronger portfolio of virtualisation technology in its kitty as well as a bigger chunk of the market.