So i think we have all seen the major takes on virtualization. We have the Server virtualization, Desktop virtualization and Application virtualization. Most vendors can agree on this, some name these areas a bit differently but over all that seems to be the cases i hear people talking about.

So i got to thinking, for a long time you have been able to download virtual appliances from VMware and use these in your infrastructure, there is a wide variety you can easily take a look here: Virtual Appliances, VMware

But how many of us will base our infrastructure on "some appliance" freely made available,  i am guessing not too many. Support on the products are needed, and we need to have High-Availability, replacement units and estabilished support channels.

So wouldn’t it be wicked cool if we could have official products, from the real vendors we use today. Established support channels, agreements already in place and what about all our management servers monitoring the appliances, what if the virtual appliances fit the same products? :-)

Cisco Nexus 1000v Virtual Switch

Cisco took the lead in this area as they announced their Nexus 1000v Virtual Switch a while back. I was really excited to see how this would go off, but the idea seems to have been well recieved. But what is it?

The Cisco Nexus 1000V switch takes advantage of VMware’s vNetwork Distributed switch framework to offer tightly integrated network services as part of a server virtualization strategy. At the same time, the switch offers operations and management consistency with existing Cisco Nexus and Cisco Catalyst switches.

Cisco VN-Link and the Cisco Nexus 1000V switch provide server virtualization technology to ensure consistent, policy-based network capabilities to all physical or virtual servers in a customer’s data center.

In short this gives you the opportunity to replace your builtin VMware vSwitches with a Cisco Virtual Switches. This allows the network administrators to manage all the switches in the environment, not only the physical switches. Give it a read here: http://www.cisco.com/en/US/products/ps9902/index.html

I am not sure on the pricing models available, but i think this is a cool step in simplifying the infrastructure, allowing the network people to work their magic in their areas and at the same time not holding back the simplification of managing the server infrastructure.

What could the future bring in this area?

Well i think i already stated that i think this a cool initiative from Cisco, but what other areas would benefit from the same way of thinking? Now seeing as i do not work much in the area of advanced networking, i got to thinking where this would be worthwhile for the vendors i do work with. Funny enough i got to think of Citrix.. I have often been annoyed with all the new hardware products and the trouble they seem to have getting the products to the customers. Setting up replacement procedures and the likes. I always excused them with the fact that "they are new in the hardware business", but now that i see Cisco going virtual on their physical technologies, I cant help but wonder if this would save vendors like Citrix a lot of troubles. I run through a couple of examples with Citrix technologies, but it could just as well be other vendor-products.

Lets take a couple of examples:

  • Secure Gateway
    The product who gave us secure access to Citrix applications from the web. Often placed in a DMZ on a Windows Server with only a webinterface to keep it company.. the feature is already ported to the linux based Access Gateways, and the Freebsd based Netscalers in form of the Access Gateway Enterprise. Virtual Appliance potential?
  • Access Gateways standard and Advanced edition
    2 Nics, 1 linux based OS.. Virtual Appliance potential?
  • Low-end Netscaler product line
    I often see these boxes in place to only add Access Gateway Enterprise features, maybe combined with a bit of load balancing. In these use cases we are not nearly utilizing the massive performance of the Netscaler hardware. Why not deliver this product, maybe even a bit cheaper with no hardware needs. Virtual Appliance potential?
  • EasyCall Appliance
    Not being and IPT expert there could be challenges to virtualizing this in contact with the company PBX, but still if at all possible. Citrix wants this product to be widely used together with the XenApp Platinum license. Why not make it easier for companies to adopt the technology. Virtual Appliance potential, maybe?
  • Citrix Branch Repeater
    Windows 2003 R2 based server, already supported on almost any hypervisor. Virtual Appliance potential?
  • Unnamed new appliance from Citrix
    I am going out on a limb here, but i am guessing there will be more appliances from Citrix, simply because it is an easy way to deliver a product without having the dependency on other vendors, like Microsoft or similar. Please Citrix consider it as a virtual appliance :)

I am not saying the products should be made freely available, just that it would be great with a virtualized product where you paid for the ‘software’ instead of the hardware. Giving customers the option to choose and support their strategic platform.

I for one hope to see the virtualization vendors taking up the appliance area as a new area of focus.. it could even easily be integrated into the powerpoint slidedeck..

Server Virtualization – Desktop Virtualization – Applications Virtualization – Appliance Virtualization

I think it would be awesome :-)

Rene Vester

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4 Responses to Appliance virtualization, whats now, whats next?

  1. Omar Sultan says:

    Rene:

    Thanks for your comments. The Nexus 1000V is the first product in our VN-Link portfolio. The concept of VN-Link is the delivery products and technologies built around virtual machines, so expect to see more products from Cisco along these lines.

    Omar Sultan
    Cisco

  2. XenCentric says:

    Is Citrix developing a NetScaler Virtual Appliance?…

    Citrix is a software company at its heart and the additional complexity of having to manage a manufacturing supply chain is something that I know that they would be glad to see the back off. This could be the first step down that road.

  3. [...] the Cisco way. I wrote about this product a while back as i was talking about the birth of Virtual Appliances, and let me just quickly clarify, the Nexus 1000v integrates directly into the VMware ESX, it is [...]

  4. [...] of Citrix taking this track for quite a while now and a quick search on Google shows that Rene Vester has been as [...]

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