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Get Set for Network Virtualization

Server virtualization was invented in 1967 or '68 by IBM (and the server was a mainframe). It became the revolution that it is today by virtue of two companies: Citrix (who turned NT servers into thin client hosts) and VMware (who turned Windows Servers into multiple Windows Servers).

Now the same thing is starting to happen to the network. No, not virtual LANs, which are cool but kind of passé. I'm talking about using software to emulate hardware networking devices, such as NICs, adapters, routers and switches.

First, this can save gobs of money. But if all this is virtualized, it can also be dynamic -- a must for a truly virtual data center and an absolute requirement for a true private cloud.

Microsoft is jumping on this bandwagon and is now talking about how Windows Server 2012 plays in this space. So far, it is really just a cog in the overall machine, and the machine for now is the high service provider area.

Just as virtualization started with big iron, Software Defined Networking (SDN) has to start somewhere -- and the high end is as good a place as any. In fact, these guys have the bucks and the savvy to sort it all out and later it can trickle down to us common folk.

My guess is that in five years we'll see some real SDN products that will simplify your network and make a lot of reconfiguration unnecessary. 

Are you up on SDN and if so, what do you make of the whole thing? Your analysis welcome at dbarney@redmond.com.

Posted by Doug Barney on 08/27/2012 at 1:19 PM


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