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Virtual network services: Streamlining hypervisor WAN optimization

Gina Narcisi

Silver Peak Systems is streamlining deployment of virtual network services by integrating its WAN optimization technology into VMware vCenter and other virtualization management consoles. The new feature, Silver Peak Agility, will allow virtualization administrators to deploy WAN optimization directly without involving network administrators.

Silver Peak Agility grants provisioning, management and control over acceleration of individual workloads to virtual administrators as a plug-in to familiar virtualization management tools, like VMware's vCenter, said Rick Tinsley, CEO of Santa Clara, Calif.-based Silver Peak.

"We're making it really easy for virtual administrators to easily point, click and accelerate applications from an interface they are used to using -- all without concerning the network administrator," Tinsley said.

While the proliferation of virtual servers within enterprises has allowed IT to spin up new virtual machines within minutes, the manual provisioning process for

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virtual network services remains manual. It can take the network team days or weeks to complete a request, said Joe Skorupa, analyst at Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner Inc.

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With the number of virtual machines hitting enterprise networks growing rapidly, network administrators are spending too much time deploying virtual network services for each virtual workload instantiated in data centers. Silver Peak Agility allows virtual administrators to quickly provision WAN optimization within their own management consoles without involving the networking team.

Like Silver Peak, many other networking and WAN optimization vendors are moving to a more automated network control model instead of requiring an administrator to manually tweak each protocol, Skorupa noted.

"IT can now program the virtual machine to turn on certain acceleration policies when a particular application fires up -- either by quickly leveraging networking gear that's already installed, or allowing other IT staff -- like the server or virtualization team -- to do it without getting the networking team involved," Skorupa said.

Enterprises can be very technology-siloed, said Andre Kindness, senior analyst for Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research Inc. The capability to automatically initiate virtual network services- - like WAN optimization -- is part of a larger trend where in the roles and capabilities of different teams within an enterprise are shifting.

"As networking becomes more advanced, IT needs the systems to start taking over," he said.

Agility is now available as a plug-in application to VMware vCenter, but Silver Peak plans to integrate with other traditional virtualization technologies, like kernel-based virtual machine (KVM) and Microsoft Hyper-V, in the future.

Once installed, the plug-in integrates a new tab into VMware vCenter, which administrators can use to manage and configure virtual and physical Silver Peak WAN optimization appliances installed in the data center. The virtualization administrator can do this within his own workflow without sending a ticket to the networking team.

Will virtualization administrators take over more virtual network services?

As businesses require quicker response times and greater flexibility within their network infrastructure, the silos within IT organizations are breaking down.

"The network touches everything, so every other team within IT has had to work with the networking administrators to get work done. Now, we are starting to see the baton moving between different teams within IT," Kindness said. "The networking team now has the opportunity to empower other IT teams by automating some network components or handing off control of certain processes."

And automating network processes frees up the networking team to focus on more advanced networking functions -- like network design and strategy, Kindness noted.

Whether or not this will rock the boat for enterprise IT departments is yet to be seen. "It's really going to depend upon the structure of the team," Skorupa said, noting that some enterprises integrate servers, networking and storage divisions into one team.

"Many networking employees will tell you they need visibility into what's running and how it's configured. This will increasingly become a contentious issue for companies that have not integrated those teams," he said.

Let us know what you think about the story; email: Gina Narcisi, News Writer and follow @GeeNarcisi on Twitter.


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