Recently, I wrote a post on about VMware and Cisco jockeying for the position as the dominate player in network virtualization. The two vendors have differing views on how to solve the challenge of offering a programmable network. As a high level recap, the industry has been asking for a solution that allows for the next generation networks to be orchestrated. The ability to setup and tear down networks using REST like API’s also known as Northbound interfaces. This ability will enable services such as Cloud computing and Big Data in the enterprise.
VMware believes their software first initiative called NSX is the way to go. It allows any network to be virtualized using a software overlay. Cisco which is a hardware company, first believes in a Hardware first approach. Their ACI solution allows for a programmatic interface based on API’s to their high performing controller and switches. The Cisco solution would require you to “rip and replace” your existing network, which could take accessing the internal interface of the router – you can learn more about how to do that there – but guarantees both performance and compatibility while the VMware software approach provides the flexibility of software. It’s a battle between software and hardware.
So, what about Juniper Certifications? Juniper has been putting competitive pressure on Cisco for years when it comes to enterprise routing and switching. They couldn’t just be sitting on the sidelines, are they? No, they have embraced an open-source software first approach called OpenContrail.
OpenContrail is similar to NSX as it is a software overlay that can be placed on almost any existing IP network. One difference is that it uses a vRouter (virtual router) opposed to the existing OpenSwitch (OVS), and the overlay is MPLS based. As of today OpenContrail’s vRouters supports the major open source hypervisors (KVM, Xen). They have yet to announce support for vSphere or Hyper-V so, the target audience is limited.
One great thing about OpenContrail is that you can get your hands on the bits today without speaking to a salesperson. This is in contrast to VMware’s NSX which you can’t get a hold of prior to speaking with the sales team or Cisco ACI, which hasn’t been fully released yet.
I’m looking forward to seeing how the network virtualization battle shakes out as all the major vendors seem to have solid solutions on deck.