Network virtualiSation eXplained

Evolution takes place everyday, but sometimes revolution is needed to kick it up to the next level. And that’s what’s happening in the network world at the moment. Those living in the “old world” will deny that a shift is currently happening and will just tell you it’s just an evolution, but what currently is happening in the network world is a revolution that will create a paradigm shift in the way we will think about network (virtualization). 

But where do we stand today. What is the current status of networks within the enterprise: Welcome to the world networking 1.0!

The intelligence of the network, the software of network components, is always coupled to the hardware that it is running on. In most enterprise environments the network intelligence is governed through a central management tool that will make sure that all devices can be managed from one central location. But this still results in the fact that you need to manage and configure all entities individually to create the desired network layout. The network design more or less is embedded into these networking devices. If it be switching (sw), routing (rt), firewalling (fw) or load balancing (lb); it all needs to be managed and configured individually and all has its own hardware that it runs on. From a flexibility and scalability perspective, this has always been a challenge. It always results in the need for more hardware if you want to achieve the required expansion to deliver the business needs. 

So that’s what we’ve been doing over the last decades. Trying to evolve a system that is limited by nature. Software and hardware tidily coupled, creating monolithic building block that is inflexible by the fact that it needs to be configured and managed individually on a per device basis. 

The key for creating flexibility and agility is in the fact that you want to decouple the software and the hardware. That’s the basic definition of what we call virtualization. Virtualization is a common word within IT today. But in general it’s used for server virtualization. Here compute power (processing and memory) is abstracted from the server hardware that has become commodity and is now used within server virtualization to create one big pool or processing and memory resources. 

Same needs to be done with the network resources. Hardware network devices need to become commodity and network resources need to be abstracted from the hardware layer. To do this network devices need to do one thing : transport network packets across from point A to B. Nothing more nothing less. That’s what hardware should do and it should be done in the fastest, easiest and most efficient way possible. In other words, the hardware should just become a transport layer within the layout of your virtual world. 

But how about all the intelligence? Intelligence is in the software. Software is the key to flexibility and efficiency. Software is needed to run and create a virtual world to build your network design in. This is where network virtualization layer comes into play. Network virtualization is a piece of software that will create that virtual playground for you and that allows you to build network designs in a virtual world. 

It will abstract the network intelligence from the hardware devices and will make that functionality available in the software layer.This does required tight integration with the virtualization software of compute resources. Please keep in mind that  not the network hardware devices themselves are virtualized. Network virtualization software integrates with the compute virtualization layer and therefor requires a compute virtualization platform such as vSphere, KVM, Xen, etc. This is 
But the result is that you no longer need physical hardware to provide switching, firewalling, routing or load balancing functionality in your network design. It can now all be created in your virtual world. The virtual world that also hosts your virtual machine workloads. Look at it as if it were your own personal network Lego world. You just use the building blocks as you please and create you own networks according to your network design specifications, but without having to buy those hardware devices.

Virtually everything is possible. This (r)evolution will set a new course in the world we know as networking. I’m already looking forward to the development  in the next couple of years! 

There are more excellent resources out there that you should read if you wan to catchup on network virtualization:

VMware Troubleshooting – Time Is On My Side

Lately I’ve been hitting some strange issues in vSphere and vCloud installations. First it was things around SSO not being able to connect and then it was the VMRC console in vCloud that started giving weird “invalid ticket” errors that resulted in vCloud VMRC console being accesible .. or not!

Both issues seemed unrelated, but the solution was the same : incorrect time settings on one of the vSphere / vCloud components.

So from a troubleshooting perspective we can add another check to the default checklist:

1. Check firewall.

2. Check time (NTP) settings!!!

It maybe a simple solution, but something to keep in mind while troubleshooting. It can save you a lot of frustation.

Some resource with regards to time and vSphere / vCloud :

VMware KB 2012069

VMware KB 2033880

Gotcha: NTP Can Affect Load Balanced vCloud VMRC

DMZ Design with vCloud Network and Security

“If you can create it with physical devices, you can build it in your own vCloud”. That’s something I always tell my customers when advising on VMware vCloud. Same goes for VMware vCloud Network and Security, which in my opinion hasn’t shown its full potential to customer yet. Thankfully Shubha Bheemarao and Ranga Maddipudi have created an excellent whitepaper on implementing vCloud Network and Security for a DMZ zone. This paper demonstrates how securing a virtual DMZ environment using VMware vCloud Networking and

Summary of the paper:

This paper highlights how securing a virtual DMZ environment using vCloud Networking and Security can be a strategic enabler to your organization as it helps you to reduce your capital expenditure and increase agility, while building a cloud ready, secure and scalable environment for business applications. The paper also highlights the different design approaches to securing business critical applications and enables you to make the choice that is most suited to your organization in the cloud journey. Further, it gives prescriptive configuration guidance to help you get started with the deployment of your preferred approach.


For more information on vCloud Networking and Security follow @vCloudNetSec on Twitter.

Source can be found here.

VMware 5.1 release party!

Word is out, vSphere 5.1 and vCloud 5.1 have been released. So what’s new in this release?  A lot I can tell you that!

And that’s what the Technical Marketing has been working on the last couple of months.

Here is the list with papers that cover all the new features :

Thanks to Duncan Epping for providing this list on his blog.


Thanks to everybody at Tech Marketing for making this information available to us!!!

New storage books for designing cloud infra

When creating a design for your cloud environment you always have to take the physical components, such as compute, network & storage into account. These components are the foundation that your cloud environment will be build on. A good design of these components is crucial for your overall design, the performance and resilience of your solution. Fact remains that you can’t know it all, but when you do want to know it, then the best way is to learn it from the experts.

Now we have the chance to do so. Three experts in the field of storage released two books about storage in relation to virtual cloud environments.

Mostafa Khalil from VMware, released the book “Storage Implementation in vSphere 5.0”

“The more important VMware virtualized infrastructure becomes, the more important virtualization storage becomes. Virtualization storage planning and management is complex, and it’s been almost impossible to find authoritative guidance – until now. In Storage Implementation in vSphere 5.0, one of VMware’s leading experts completely demystifies the “black box” of vSphere storage, and provides illustrated, step-by-step procedures for performing virtually every task associated with it. Mostafa Khalil brings together detailed techniques and guidelines, insights for better architectural design, planning and management best practices, common configuration details, and deep dives into both vSphere and external storage-related technologies. He gives technical professionals the deep understanding they need to make better choices, solve problems, and keep problems from occurring in the first place. This book answers crucial, ground-level questions such as: How do you configure storage array from “Vendor X” to support vSphere “Feature Y”? How do you know you’ve configured it correctly? What happens if you misconfigure it? How can you tell from logs and other tools that you have a problem – and how do you fix it? Most of the author’s troubleshooting techniques are based on his own personal experience as a senior VMware support engineer helping customerstroubleshoot their own vSphere production environments – experience that nobody else has.”

At the same time Vaughn Stewart and Mike Slisinger from NetApp released the book “Virtualization Changes Everything: Storage Strategies for VMware vSphere & Cloud Computing”:

Storage is a foundational component in the support of virtualization and cloud computing – and it is dynamically evolving. It is an aspect of the datacenter that is all-too-often overlooked, but without storage, there is no data, and without data, there is no cloud. Virtualization Changes Everything, by Vaughn Stewart and Mike Slisinger, examines the evolutionary influence of host virtualization and cloud computing in breaking storage deployment out of outdated silo models and into a dynamic, flexible hosting environment. Virtualization Changes Everything reviews common goals and challenges associated with providing storage service with cloud computing, and addresses each through the application of advanced storage technologies designed to scale in order to support the ever-expanding storage needs of the future. The examples within the book are pulled from real-world experience, and often involve the integration of multiple innovative technologies. If you are looking for measured guidance on high availability, efficiency, integration and performance for the storage in your cloud, then this book is for you!”

Both execellent books on the topic of storage and the impact it has on your virtual cloud environment. A must read for everybody that wants to gain more knowledge on this topic and the impact storage has on virtual cloud environments.

Download YOUR cloud now! #vSphere5

So it has been a while since the announcement last month, but finally it’s available for download : vSphere 5! VMware again raised the bar an created the next generation in cloud computing / virtualization software. And with VMworld just around the corner, everybody can now experience the true power of VMware’s nextgen cloud OS.

vmware cloud os

So what’s in this new release? Where to start. VMware has improved a lot of features that where also available in vSphere 4.1, but also included a lot of new features that make vSphere more and more a flexible and dynamic cloud OS. With more then 140 new features this sure is a masterpiece of work by VMware.

To get more information about the new release have a look over here at the following links :

Where to download the good stuff? vSphere 5 over here!

Release notesDocumentationWhat’s New in vSphere 5.0The book on vSphere 5 Clustering

Cloud redefines the IT mindset

Cloud technology is currently redefining IT infrastructure as we speak. Companies are presenting their cloud solutions at rapid speed and new cloud products are being announced every week. It seems that every vendor is on the cloud train and wants their customers to hop on too.

Question however is : Is your company ready for the cloud transformation?

As with all new technologies it also requires a different mindset. A new way of thinking about how to incorporate the cloud technology into your company. Cloud requires a new vision and strategy with regards to the IT infrastructure in your company. It’s a transformation process and the key is not in the technology, but in the organization adjustment.

The picture below (click to enlarge) gives a good representation of how the traditional, vertical IT management approach is being transformed to a cloud, policy driven approach.

More information about transforming and integrating cloud solutions with your IT infrastructure can be found in the whitepaper “Accelerate Hybrid Cloud Succes: Adjusting the IT mindset” by IDC here. This whitepaper was sponsored by VMware. See the press release here (Dutch).

Building a hybrid vCloud

VMware announced that it is going to release the VMware vCloud Connector. With this connector you will be able to connect to public vCloud solutions that are provided by service providers like Bluelock and Colt and in the near future Verizon (currently in beta).

Over the last couple of months these service providers have been building public vClouds based on VMware vCloud technology. The VMware vCloud Connector is the missing piece of linking your private vCloud (a.k.a. vSphere) to one of the public vClouds of the service providers.

The following link gives a graphic representation on how you should visualize the creation of a hybrid vCloud using the VMware vCloud Connector.

The VMware vCloud Connector is a virtual appliance running in your own private vCloud. By using a plugin in your vSphere client you can use the vCloud Connector to connect to public vClouds that are provided by the service providers that have build vClouds that are accessible through the vCloud API.

By using your vSphere Client together with the vCloud Connector you create a “single pain glass” management console for managing both your private vCloud and public vCloud resources.

This creates a hybrid cloud management interface with the following capabilities :

  • –  Visualize workloads and templates across vSphere and private/public vClouds
  • –  Migrate workloads and templates between vSphere and vClouds
  • –  Perform basic power and deployment operations on workloads and templates
  • –  Access console of vApps in vClouds

For more information on the VMware vCloud Connector, have a look at the post created by VMware vCloud Architect Massimo Re Ferre’

The blog post by VMware can be located here.

vSphere management GOing to the cloud?

Last week VMware launches its new product: VMware Go. This is a product that is specifically targeted at the SMB market. A clever move by VMware to expand its market share of virtualization in the SMB segment. VMware already is the market leader in virtualization when it comes to enterprise companies. But in the SMB segment has competitors like Microsoft’s Hyper-V, Citrix XenServer or RedHats KVM.

Not only cost is a factor that stops SMB companies from entering the path of virtualization. Also the lack of resources and knowledge about virtualization is something most SMB companies don’t have.  With Go VMware  tries to simplify the proces of virtualization. It provides a management interface to VMware ESXi from the Go cloud.

Eric Sloof over at NTPRO.NL points to a YouTube video where Dave McCrory, founder and CTO of Hyper9, explains how VMware Go works.

The picture above shows the same explanation of VMware Go as Dave McCrory gives in his video. What shows is that management takes place, through a web interface,  from the workstation where the administrator is located. Everything will be managed from the VMware Go cloud. The ESXi hosts are connected to the Go cloud by installing a proxy admin desktop. This desktop will service the Go cloud a management interface for the ESXi host.

This is a rather new concept of managing servers. Normally a client-server management model is applied to this kind of infrastructure services. VMware vCenter, the current management tool for vSphere infrastructures, is an example of a this type of management model.

The question is : Is this the first of step into moving vSphere management into the cloud?

This may seem like a far fetched idea, but is it? We are now living in the world of cloud computing. Lets look at the same picture as above, but introduce the vCloud concept into this equation.

Here you can see the same concept as the picture above. The proxy desktop has been replaced by an VMware Go Proxy appliance which is for managing the ESXi host in you (local) private vSphere cloud. There is a connection between the Private vSphere cloud and the vCloud(s) provided the various VMware hosting partners. All this can be managed from a central point : the VMware Go cloud.

If the name will still be the same isn’t important, call it vCenter Cloud Edition (CE), it doesn’t matter. What does matter is the fact that you now have central point of management to control your hybrid cloud. Not only can you manage your private cloud, but from the same interface you can manage you various vCloud partners (or even non-VMware) cloud services. This makes the VMware vCenter Cloud Edition a cloud broker to manage all your IaaS cloud services. Maybe even with integration to manage PaaS or SaaS solution. One cloud to rule them all 😉

Will this become reality? Only time will tell.

My personal opion: I like the idea of cloud brokers. I don’t think that one (cloud) provider / solution can serve all the cloud services needed by a company. So in my opinion cloud brokers will become the next battleground in cloud land. That’s why I like the idea of a central management cloud broker solution. That’s why I like the idea of a vSphere vCenter Cloud Edition.

What do you think?

Cloud from an end-user perspective


“I don’t want to care” is probably one of the main reasons end-users want to move to cloud services besides of course IT costs.

Over the last couple of decades IT more and more has become entangled within our daily lives. In our work, at home, in the streets; IT is everywhere. We are more depended on IT services then we think.

The thing is we don’t want is to care about IT. IT should be there like electricity, tap water or mailman dropping the “oldskool snailmail” in the mailbox. All examples of services that we take for granted and which we don’t think about. It’s delivered to us according to when we expect it, either being on-demand or on a pre-fined schedule. How these services are organized or how it works is something most end-users don’t care about.

Same goes for cloud services. End-users don’t want to care about IT, they just want to consume it. End-users in this context can be anybody, corparate or personal, as long as they use the cloud service.  But the technology that lies behind of these cloud services is of no interest to them. If the technology isn’t important to the end-user, what is?

The things that end-users look for IT cloud services can be brought down to 3 points :

  1. Performance; Either being a local software program on their personal  computer or a cloud service, it doesn’t matter as long as it performs to the expectation of the end-users.
  2. Availability; If you buy a service you want to use it whenever you need it. A big frustration is not being able to use that service at the moment you need it. A cloud app can have 99,9% uptime, but that 1 hour the  cloud service was down at the moment that users needed it the most, will result in a negative experience with the end user.
  3. Security; Data is new oil in this information era. And personal data of end-users is on top of the data list. End-users want to be sure that whatever data is put into the cloud doesn’t leave the cloud without their permission. They want to have full control over their data.

So whenever thinking about cloud computing and what matters, take into account the end-user and the 3 points above which matters to them!