Cloud Native/NFV

How VMware Plans to Put the Screws on Cisco

On that most recent earnings call, VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger says he sees networking rivaling VMware's traditional compute virtualization business, becoming as big as or bigger.

Additionally, Gillis joins VMware as enterprise networks are in transition, he says. "The obvious shift in front of us is the shift toward public cloud," he says. Also, compute is moving to the edge, in branch, kiosks and Internet of Things devices.

VMware is best positioned to take advantage of the transition, Gillis says. The network infrastructure needs a uniform software layer blanketing the infrastructure end-to-end.

Moreover, the network needs to understand application behavior to be effective -- and that's where VMware's advantage over Cisco comes in, Gillis says. "This is something that's intrinsic to VMware. With virtualization technology, we booth the app, we understand the app, and we can now increasingly look inside the app," Gillis says. VMware can understand app components, microservices and provide a rich platform for policy and security enforcement, he said.

The future is in the application
As part of the Microsegmentation 2.0 strategy, VMware is looking to simplify network security and management policies to something resembling plain English, which is where VMware's Microsegmentation 2.0 most strongly resembles Cisco's intent-based networking.

And it's not just Cisco. Automated network management is similar to Arista's CloudVision strategy, which it advanced with this month's Mojo Networks acquisition, as well as Juniper's vision for "self-driving networks." (See Arista Finds Its Campus Mojo and Juniper Launches 'Bots' for Self-Driving Networks.)

But VMware's virtualization and Kubernetes technologies gives it an advantage over those competitors by giving VMware application visibility –- which pure-play networking vendors like Cisco lack -- as well as network visibility, Gillis says. (See VMware Launches Kubernetes-as-a-Service.)

"The future is in the application," Gillis says. "I've spent a lot of my career trying to look at packets on the wire and figure out, 'Oh, this is a database and this is a web server.' That's actually hard to do, particularly in a world where you have custom apps. But we're there when the server is born, so we know all about it. We know how it boots, we know where it resides in memory, we know how it behaves, we know what it is, what it does, what it should do. And so it allows us a very high fidelity view into what customers are trying to accomplish in their applications."

Microsegmentation 2.0 is an extension of VMware's Virtual Cloud Network strategy, announced more than three months ago, to leverage NSX to provide a single fabric and layer of infrastructure spanning the edge, branch, core, data center and cloud, including Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure, with consistent policy enforcement and manageability. (See VMware Takes On Cisco & Juniper With Network Vision.)

Microsegmentation 2.0 also relies on using knowledge of known good application behavior to secure networks. The vast majority of the security industry is focused on the opposite, identifying known bad traffic, with signature or behavioral analysis, to identify threats, Gillis says. By tracking both known good behavior and known bad behavior, VMware can leap forward in security protection.

— Mitch Wagner Follow me on Twitter Visit my LinkedIn profile Visit me on Tumblr Follow me on Facebook Executive Editor, Light Reading

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