By Daniel Montesanto, Global Product Manager, HP Networking
At this year’s spring Interop, I’m certain we’ll continue to hear trumpets heralding the death of legacy, CLI-driven, physically managed and provisioned networks. Meanwhile, vendors and pundits alike seem to agree that a move to virtualized architectures is the right strategy for making networks more agile, flexible and secure. This should be great news for you and for network admins in particular who have been waiting a long time for networks to “get with the program” when it comes to delivering the kind of flexibility and ease-of-management that your system admin buddies have been enjoying for years with server virtualization tools.
Build a foundation for virtualized network architecture
So while vendors are busy getting networks “dressed up to the nines” and virtualized, a key question arises: How do you most effectively enable delivery of these resources to the business? As the IT ecosystem moves to cloud-driven deployment and consumption models, infrastructure administrators of all stripes must also make sure their resources are readily consumable – when and where they are required.
With Virtual Application Networks on display throughout Interop in our HP booth (1327), we have staked out a compelling vision and set of solutions that put customers on a path realizing the benefits of network virtualization. Built on HP’s FlexNetwork architecture, these solutions provide networking admins a great set of tools for making networks easier-to-deploy, more flexible and less susceptible to human error.
Break the silo
If we want to make these snazzy new virtualized IT resources easy to consume by the business all administration teams – server, storage, network - need to move from silo’ed, infrastructure-centric management to approaches that yield better operations and tighter integration with cloud frameworks. The objective? Creating application-optimized resources that can be rapidly deployed to the business.
The first area of opportunity is to focus on Operations Integration - enabling server, storage and networking teams to work better together. This means leveraging new tools and processes to allow these teams to more quickly and reliably provision virtual resources. This approach can also enable these teams to work together to tailor those resources to be more closely aligned with the applications that need them.
Using the Virtual Application Network Manager (part of HP’s Intelligent Management Center) the network administrator can work proactively with the server team to characterize and design application-specific, virtual machine connection profiles and make them available to the server team for instant consumption and configuration in the network when virtual machines are deployed. That’s good news for the server team and the business at large – no more waiting around for the networking guy to configure top-of-rack switches to connect virtual machines!
Complementary to and leveraging this approach is a focus on Cloud Integration – where the same advanced provisioning tools are instrumented with Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) to allow infrastructure services or even discrete resources to be directly consumed by cloud orchestration tools and teams. This second approach enables cloud teams to either consume off-the-shelf, application-optimized infrastructure “services” or orchestrate customized combinations of on-the-fly “virtual resources” through programming calls to network management frameworks.
With a rich set of Virtual Application Network APIs included in the eAPI for IMC, complete virtual machine connection profiles can be systematically deployed in concert with server and storage resources as part of an HP Converged Infrastructure. Alternatively, these same APIs can be used to execute individual, finer grain Virtual Application Network operation steps by cloud automation tools.
Ready for the cloud
By providing a framework for application-tailored, IT-aligned delivery of virtualized connectivity, Virtual Application Networks let you meet the new challenges of a cloud-driven IT infrastructure. Even though this solution is yet another nail in the coffin of old-fashioned box-by-box network management, I’m willing to bet that no one will shed a tear. In fact, with Virtual Application Networks we’re now all dressed up ready to celebrate – in the party capital of the world!