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HP network virtualization bridges OpenFlow and OpenStack

HP network virtualization software VCN enhances OpenStack Neutron and integrates with HP's OpenFlow controller.

Hewlett Packard announced Virtual Cloud Networking software that functions as an enhancement to OpenStack Neutron, as well as an SDN application that can run on HP's OpenFlow controller, giving customers a path toward overlay and OpenFlow networks.

Virtual Cloud Networking (VCN) integrates with the Neutron networking plug-in on HP's Helion distribution of OpenStack to create virtual network overlays and insert supporting network services and security. When VCN runs on HP's Virtual Application Networks (VAN) OpenFlow controller, it can also integrate those overlays with physical OpenFlow network.

The software runs on both KVM and VMware ESX hypervisors and will be bundled with the Helion distribution. It will be available in the second half of this year.

HP network visualization software: Both SDN app and OpenStack plug-in enhancement

VCN "does provide an overlay through Neutron and OpenStack," said Jacob Rapp, HP's senior manager of SDN marketing. "It's very similar in function to what VMware NSX does. But we don't stop at the overlay. We're creating the overlay for agility, but we're also tying OpenStack into our SDN architecture. VCN is the bridge between our OpenStack distribution and the VAN SDN controller, to enable unified visibility of physical and virtual networks."

"[VCN] fits a niche for folks running OpenStack clouds who don't want to run NSX," said Andrew Lerner, research director for Stamford, Connecticut-based Gartner Inc. "This is really targeted at larger organizations that are pushing the OpenStack envelope. And if you are pushing it, you're looking at stuff like this rather than VMware. [They] are not the same group as VMware's bread and butter folks."

The integration of VCN with HP's VAN controller gives HP a way of addressing legacy networks with its OpenStack Helion distribution, said Andre Kindness, principal analyst with Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Forrester Research.

"HP's controller is just an OpenFlow controller," he said. "You need an environment that deals with the legacy infrastructure and interfaces with hypervisors by tunneling through the network," he said.

Previous HP network virtualization path: VMware NSX integration

At VMworld last year HP demonstrated federation between VMware's NSX overlay and HP's VAN controller, which provided integration of physical OpenFlow networks with VMware's virtual overlays. VCN gives HP an OpenStack-flavored alternative to delivering the same value, Rapp said.

VCN, in combination with the VAN SDN controller, gives engineers a way to apply the applications in HP's SDN app store to overlay networks, Rapp said. Several partner companies, including Kemp Technologies and Riverbed, will offer their Layer 4-7 services as SDN applications for which VCN can act as the insertion point into an overlay network, he said.

HP also introduced a new professional services practice, HP Trusted Network Transformation, which aims to help IT organizations build networks to support business that are trying to adopt private clouds. The services provided end-to-end consultation, beginning with workshops aimed at helping IT -- and the networking team in particular -- align with the business and start thinking of the rest of the company as customers.

From there, HP provides network assessment, architectural design services around network virtualization and SDN and customer advocacy aimed at helping IT determine whether it needs to invest in new infrastructure or "sweat the assets" it already has in place, said Ron Irving, spokesman for HP's technology services organization.

Let us know what you think about the story; email: Shamus McGillicuddy, news director, or follow him on Twitter @ShamusTT.

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