A Peek at What’s Hot in the Cloud – SDN for Cloud in the Enterprise

November 16, 2015 No Comments

By David A. Kelly, Upside Research

fire cloud sm A Peek at What’s Hot in the Cloud – SDN for Cloud in the EnterpriseAs we gear up for what promises to be a busy year around cloud computing, I thought it would be helpful to take a look at a cloud-related technology that is still emerging, but shows tremendous potential for making its mark on the enterprise. The technology is known as SDN – software-defined networking. SDN is an approach for building networks that separates and abstracts elements to allow for greater flexibility and agility.

This enables network virtualization, which is a step beyond the now-popular virtual machines (VM) that are popping up like dandelions in data centers. What is important is how SDN can be applied to cloud computing. Essentially, combining SDN virtual networking with VMs and virtual storage provides an elastic resource allocation previously unavailable for the enterprise – abstracting the networking layer in cloud deployments that have often been a stumbling block for enterprise adoption of infrastructure as a service (IaaS).

Two hot vendors in this space worth noting are Embrane and Midokura. Embrane offers a Heleos platform, which is a multi-service, distributed software architecture that delivers a virtualization of network service layers 3-7 (i.e. VPNs, firewalls, and load balancing). This allows the creation of IaaS models by cloud providers and enterprises, enabling on-demand provisioning and configuration of these services. Similarly, Midokura offers MidoNet, which is also a distributed SDN product designed for IaaS. MidoNet provides network virtualization for public and private cloud computing.

These companies are both intriguing because of their niche in the cloud network virtualization market. What makes them worth watching closely is the recent acquisition of Nicira by VMWare last year for more than $1 billion. Nicira was a five-year-old company with a reputation as a pioneer in the SDN market. VMware saw an opportunity in its acquisition of Nicira to take virtualization to networking much like it had to servers. Nicira enables customers to build a virtual networking layer, creating an abstraction layer between server hosts and networking gear. This decoupling creates a pool of network capacity, enabling fluid, agile, on-demand virtual networks which will essentially virtualize the datacenter.

I expect the year ahead to provide more opportunities for enterprise network leaders to make some significant moves regarding SDN and some of the standout vendors in the space. EMC (of which VMWare is a subsidiary) has already made its first move, so it stands to reason Cisco and others are watching closely and thinking of their next move in this emerging market.




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