This time last year I did some extensive testing with Gigabit/10Gig switch vendor, Force 10 Networks and I was truly impressed with the technology.
So when said company launches something that sounds as flaky as a "virtualization framework", whereas normally I would summarily dismiss it as marketing gone mad, in this instance it's worthy of serious analysis. In a nutshell (nut species not specified) this is a set of tools that is designed to hand-hold in the deployment of a virtualized environment from day one build to ongoing performance monitoring and analysis thereof.
There are three basic elements:
VirtualControl which partitions physical network assets to virtualize logical boundaries, enabling one device, i.e. a switch/router, to act as many devices.
VirtualScale which enables network managers to consolidate physical network fabrics to virtualize physical boundaries, enabling many devices, i.e. switch/routers, to perform as one device.
VirtualView which allows administrators to see what is happening on the network, and to automate network responses according to precise, dynamic resource needs and demands.
So it kind of sounds like an extension of VLANs combined with network management. It has some specific "nice things" though, such as the ability to get rid of the horrible Spanning Tree protocol, by enabling you to create a resilient architecture without the need to waste half the bandwidth, as well as application-based network segmentation.
The VirtualView element of this framework also looks pretty handy (despite the naff name) providing intelligent control of network devices, such as automatically powering down under-utilized resources to save power, policy-based managed by business process (sounds interesting) and dynamic allocation of VLANs for defining and re-allocation resource pools.
In other words, it kinds of provides the elements you'd like to have seen on switched networks from day one but that have been bolt-ons to date. So, given Force 10's recent merger with the Carrier Ethernet guys, Turin Networks, does this make the company hot property, even in the current financial climate (don't mention the weather)? I would say absolutely, so I'm about to getting digging. Watch this space...