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Network Virtualization Will Precede Private Cloud

Automate the network

When VMware entered the production data center it was the beginning of a massive IT disruption with profound implications for careers, vendors and the next tech innovation cycle, driven by deep reductions in network operating expenses and equally uplifting increases in network flexibility and intelligence.

VMware set the stage for the multibillion dollar system virtualization category by allowing operating systems and applications to be easily set up and moved on top of commodity server hardware.  They automated systems that had been requiring ever increasing amounts of manual labor as data centers grew ever more complex by creating an abstracting layer between software and hardware.

Check out the IDC slide referenced in the October, 2008 infrastructure 2.0 blog on "Virtualization, Cloud Computing and IT Diseconomies".  The market cap of VMware was to a great extent driven by the increasing proportions of management expense required for supporting ever more complex system infrastructures.

There is a similar (internal HP only, based on IDC data) slide showing the creeping opex menace growing every year to consume more than 50% of server costs.  Also read "Server Management Costs Soar, Says IDC":

For every server that is purchased and installed, management costs increase exponentially. Matt Eastwood, vice president, enterprise server research for Framingham, Mass.,-based IDC says that a penny saved in initial cost is a dollar spent on management. "IT pros are always interested in getting the best deal that they can when they purchase new equipment. But what they are beginning to realize is that the cost of maintaining a server is five to seven times the purchase price."

- Brian Kraemer, SearchDataCenter.com Feb 2006

Now that VMware, Citrix and Microsoft have now declared war on manual labor and rising system management expense, it's the network's turn to get automated.  At stake are scattered, multibillion dollar empires driven by complexity, expertise and black holes of arcane scripts, configurations and multi-step network management processes.

It all starts at the core, in the core network services addressed by the emerging DDI appliance category kicked off by Gartner last fall, then emanates into a host of initiatives (like virtualization and IPv6) that are slowed down (and incur heightened cost and risk) due to the persistence of complexity and manual processes required to simply keep networks available and secure as more IP addresses are added.

The IPAM diseconomies of scale discovered by Computerworld during the fall of 2008 was eerily reminiscent of the data discovered by IDC on rising server management costs.

Now that CIOs have discovered the power of system automation to break the bonds between software and hardware and automate once manual system processes, they will be looking for solutions that can break the bonds between the meaty address space (DNS, DHCP, IPAM, etc) and physical location enabling unprecedented breakthroughs in operating expense and risk, power savings and scalability.  They will leverage the network like never before to take IT automation to new levels.

Network automation will start with the automation and integration of IPAM, DNS and DHCP and will spread from this waste-ridden meat space core into areas strategically bound by those manual processes.  Look to announced partnerships between companies like Infoblox(my employer) in the DDI space and the likes of Riverbed, Cisco, Neustar (and the recent F5 and Infoblox announcement related to DNSSEC) to tackle a host of costs and challenges emanating from the network's tired core.

IT is about to be radically transformed, not by cloud computing but by a wave of innovation that will make networks as powerful and nimble and economical as recently virtualized systems.  And those virtualized systems will become more secure, more efficient and even more economical than ever before.

As system virtualization decoupled software and operating systems from the bonds of specialized dedicated hardware, network virtualization will decouple those systems from the limitations of specialized, dedicated locations.

Those who embrace network automation first will attain strategic advantage over their peers.  Hence the recent announcements and breakthroughs by Cisco, Citrix, F5, Juniper, Riverbed, VMware and others, setting the stage for the inevitable transformation foreshadowed by the rise of system virtualization and the resultant shift in market caps between tired incumbents and the virtualization ecosystem.

You can follow my rants in real-time at Archimedius.

More Stories By Greg Ness

Greg Ness is a Silicon Valley marketing veteran with background in networking, security, virtualization and cloud computing. He is VP Marketing at CloudVelocity. Formerly at Vantage Data Centers, Infoblox, Blue Lane Technologies, Juniper Networks, Redline Networks, McAfee, IntruVerofficer at Networks and ShoreTel. He is one of the world's top cloud bloggers.

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