Will Virtualization Kill Networking?
TRIVIA: The first video MTV ever played was The Buggles’ “Video Killed the Radio Star“, which was sadly all too prescient as evidenced by the subsequent popularity of Milli Vanilli. So, a good friend of mine recently pondered if virtualization would similarly marginalize networking, if networking is becoming an inhibitor to innovation–I am not sure who plays the role of Milli Vanilli in his analogy. :)This is kinda curious stance to take. From my perspective, our level of connectedness as a planet is only increasing and we are still staying true to “Metcalfe’s Law” (the value of a network is proportional to the square of the number of nodes). Far from the network being an inhibitor, I see the network continuing to be an enabler, whether it is social networking or cloud computing, the interesting things that are going on are very network centric–Twitter is much less compelling if you have to mail your tweets on postcards. Similarly, the iPhone is hit not because it is a great phone, it is a hit because it is an exceptionally well connected phone. Looking at spending priorities and questioning whether budget is better invested in systems that can directly benefit the business, its important to remember that systems only create sustained value for the business if employees and customers can reliably, securely, and predictably access them. OK, so networking is a non-negotiable part of any system, perhaps all we really need are dumb pipes–people won’t notice or care. Well, if you want to test the assertion that end users and consumers view their “pipes” as a commodity, check out the various spirited discussions on the web about the carrier choices for the iPhone to see how opinionated folks actually are about their transport. This is pretty much in line with what we found when introduced our Cisco MDS Fibre Channel switches–once customers were educated, they started to have an opinion. Interestingly enough, there are companies out there that advocate the “dumb pipe” pipe perspective that networking is over-rated are demonstrating it by….investing to enhance their own networking offerings…?!So, the reality is that the data center continues to be three-legged race of technologies–sometimes one leg (technology) is leading the way,sometimes that same leg is being dragged along, but in the end, they all need to stay closely coupled to make any progress. The Cisco Nexus 1000V as a very practical example of this. The rapid adoption of VMware ESX forced us to reconsider how we deliver networking services and led to, among other things, the development of the Nexus 1000V. And now, the introduction of the Cisco Nexus 1000V has paved the way for much broader implementation of virtualization in the data center. And, so the race continues…For more thoughts on why Data Center infrastructure is sexy again, check out Data Center Infrastructure Gets Hip