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Don't let your network get trapped in the Cisco/VMware rift

By Yanick Pouffary, Distinguished Technologist, HP Technology Services Networking & Mobility


Yanick_Pouffary_badge_176x304 edited.pngAs any history buff will tell you, you don’t have to look far for stories of one-time allies turning against each other.


And when alliances crumble, it’s a good idea to get well out of the way.


I’ve been reminded of that recently by the growing tension in the Cisco – VMware partnership over their differing visions for the network, and in particular the structure of Software-defined Networking (learn about HP’s SDN vision on Twitter: #SwitchtoHP @SwitchtoHP). This is no minor squabble, and should be a real concern to any network decision-maker with an eye to the future.


Cisco’s approach to SDN is, of course, hardware-driven, with its Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) platform. VMware’s approach is all about software, through its NSX ecosystem. Yet both vendors partner with EMC to offer VCE Vblocks, a bundle of compute, network, and storage products.


The rumblings coming out of the rift seem to be getting louder every day. I’m pretty sure that Business Insider’s Julie Bort is overstating the case in reporting that Cisco’s John Chambers is out to “crush VMware.” But CRN’s Kevin McLaughlin definitely sees the infighting heating up: “While Cisco began publicly bashing NSX immediately after VMware launched it last November, VMware has so far taken the high road. But in the coming months, VMware is going to get more aggressive in disputing Cisco's criticisms …” (see McLaughlin’s post VMware Responds to Cisco’s SDN Bashing…)


And with this alliance unraveling, would you really want to rely on it long-term?


You don’t have to. Unlike Cisco, HP is developing a comprehensive solution with VMware, the first east-west federated approach that delivers unified automation and visibility for both virtual and physical data center networks. It combines the openness of HP’s Open Network Foundation-based SDN controller and OpenFlow approaches and the intimate interoperability with VMware through federation. This solution won’t lock you in to any proprietary hardware, unlike Cisco’s my-way-or-the-highway approach.


With HP’s open standard-based networking you’ve got single-vendor accountability and investment protection – a far cry from the fragility of a multi-party venture with competing interests. Your investment is safe for the long term.


Learn more about HP Software-defined Networking here. Want to try an HP test drive? You can download a free 60-day trial of our VAN SDN Controller here.


Get the latest on HP’s open, flexible, federated approach to SDN on Twitter: @SwitchtoHP


And to learn more about me and how I can help you reap all of the benefits of SDN, visit my HP Expert profile.


Important Update 8.27.14: There are some important new developments this week in HP's long-standing partnership with VMware, with the announcement that the HP-VMware networking solution is now generally available as a standalone solution and as part of HP Converged Systems. Check out this blog about the announcement.

At the same time, it seems that some of Cisco's own customers are balking at the company's continued insistence on a proprietary, hardware-locked approach, according this Bloomberg Businessweek article: Cisco CEO Pressured by Goldman Sachs to Embrace Software More at #SwitchtoHP.

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About the Author
Editor and writer with 12+ years experience in the corporate software and technology sectors.

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