What's Next To Virtualise? The Network Of Course...

Wore my journalist hat yesterday to attend an HP update event on its ESSN division (don’t worry about what the initials stand for, but N is for Networking…).

While not the key focus of yesterday’s blurb, the key thing for me to take from the event was the company’s very recent announcement that they are going into the VAN market; no – not competing with Transits, though you could say the network is “in transit” but Virtual Application Networks – all part of the current SDN or Software Defined Network movement. For many years HP (as Procurve) and others have been trying to crack the whole “end to end” optimisation problem. I’ve been trying to personally crack it using any number of vendor parts since 1999…. 

So, VAN is the latest attempt. The aim is to use preconfigured templates to characterise the network resources required to deliver an application to users – i.e. to enable consistent, reliable and repeatable deployment of cloud applications in minutes. An end-to-end control plane virtualises the network and enables programming of the physical devices to create multi-tenant, on-demand, topology and device-independent provisioning. The idea is to be completely open, so this isn’t an HP closed shop solution; that that they have created it.

Speaking with one of HPs customers, Mark Bramwell of Wellcome Trust at the event, we both agreed that it sounds like the latest and greatest “smoke and mirrors”, “too good to be true” solution BUT – if it works, then great – every user has optimised applications, on a per user, per application basis. So we both agreed – the only sensible option is for me to test it. Watch this space on that one…

Speaking yet further on the subject in a broader manner with Lars Koelendorf who heads up HP EMEAs mobile and wireless stuff, we agreed that the ideal way to rebuild a network is to start with IPv6; with so many addresses available, every user could have their own virtual IP address that IS their identity so, whatever client they are using and wherever they are, all the logic sits behind their VIP(v6) address and the HP VAN man is complete. They would, of course, drive applications faster across the network than any other user type…

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