NESSessary Question: Will Virtualization Undermine Network Equipment Vendors?
Greg Ness touched off an interesting discussion when he asked “Will Virtualization Undermine Network Equipment Vendors?” It’s a great read summarizing how virtualization (and Cloud) are really beginning to accelerate how classical networking equipment vendors are re-evaluating their portfolios in order to come to terms with these disruptive innovations.
I’ve written so much about this over the last three years and my response is short and sweet:
Virtualization has actually long been an enabler for network equipment vendors — not server virtualization, mind you, but network virtualization. The same goes in the security space. The disruption caused by server virtualization is only acting as an accelerant — pushing the limits of scale, redefining organizational and operational boundaries, and acting as a forcing function causing wholesale reconsideration of archetypal network (and security) topologies.
The compressed timeframe associated with the disruption caused by virtualization and its adoption in conjunction with the arrival of Cloud Computing may seem unnatural given the relatively short window associated with its arrival, but when one takes the longer-term view, it’s quite natural. We’ve seen it before in vignettes across the evolution of computing, but the convergence of economics, culture, technology and consumerism have amplified its relevance.
To answer Greg’s question, Virtualization will only undermine those network equipment vendors who were not prepared for it in the first place. Those that were building highly virtualized, context-enabled routing, switching and security products will embrace this swing in the hardware/software pendulum and develop hybrid solutions that span the physical and virtual manifestations of what the “network” has become.
As I mentioned in my blog titled “Quick Bit: Virtual & Cloud Networking – Where It ISN’T Going…”
Specifically, as it comes to understanding how the network plays in virtual and Cloud architectures, it’s not where the network *is* in the increasingly complex virtualized, converged and unified computing architectures, it’s where networking *isn’t.*
Take a look at your network equipment vendors. Where do they play in that stack above? Compare and contrast that with what is going on with vendors like Citrix/Xen with the Open vSwitch, Vyatta, Arista with vEOS and Cisco with the Nexus 1000v*…interesting times for sure.
*Disclosure: I work for Cisco.