Hewlett-Packard Co. is introducing what it calls Virtual Appliance Networks, an attempt to speed up the process of deploying applications into the cloud.
The idea is to provide automated templates for network configuration. So, when a new video server gets added, for instance, an operator could just apply the "video" template, which would apply the right configuration to the network.
This would supposedly let network operators control the network at the policy level, rather than getting deep into the coding of the command-line interface. It also creates a process that's easily repeatable -- a notable point considering how many network outages are caused by human error.
The new management modules, being announced Tuesday, are part of the Intelligent Management Center (IMC), HP's management and virtualization software. IMC already manages the physical network, and HP is extending that capability to the virtualized network.
HP is also introducing plug-ins to help automate network policy enforcement of VMware Inc. virtual machines, and application programming interfaces (APIs) to let developers add some IMC functions to their applications.
Why this matters
In trying to establish itself as a network contender -- particularly against Cisco Systems Inc. -- HP is latching on to pretty much every hot issue that comes up, especially on the enterprise side. The company was already the first to proclaim OpenFlow support across a range of products, and now it's exploiting a cloud angle, too.
Configuration really is a challenge for enterprise networks in general, and plenty of companies are talking about simplifying or automating the process. HP's competition in configuration innovations will include the community that's built up around Chef, the open-source framework developed by Opscode Inc.
Tail-f Systems has also worked on improving network configuration, even by handling Cisco-switch configuration.
â€” Craig Matsumoto, Managing Editor, Light Reading