Article

Cisco, VMware collaborate on VFrame Data Center

Mark Fontecchio
Cisco Systems Inc. of San Jose, Calif., hopes to extend the reach of its VFrame Data Center with the announcement today that it can load VMware Inc.'s VMware

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ESX Server onto machines to enable server virtualization. VFrame Data Center enables the coordinated use of physical and virtualized resources from shared pools.

More on VFrame and server virtualization:
Is Cisco's VFrame a 'virtual mainframe'?

Server virtualization: Virtual disaster recovery takes hold

Previously, Cisco could load Windows and Linux onto a bare-metal server. Now that it has the ability to load VMware ESX Server, Cisco is hitching its product onto the burgeoning technology of server virtualization. That accords with a 2007 SearchDataCenter.com data center purchasing survey. It found that 64% of respondents are using server virtualization, with VMware products taking up almost three-fourths of the market share.

"Given the tremendous success of VMware and strong customer adoption, it was obviously important for VFrame to support VMware," said Cindy Borovick, director of data center networks for Framingham, Mass.-based research firm IDC.

Blank slates for central network management
Cisco introduced its VFrame Data Center in July, calling it an "orchestration platform" to start controlling servers, networking and storage in the data center. The product comes shipped in a 1U device and purports to turn your servers into "stateless vessels," according to a recent report , by analyst John Webster at Nashua, N.H.-based Illuminata Inc. These vessels can be "filled or drained as needed," with Cisco networking hardware and software handling the filling and draining.

Cisco is essentially bringing forth the notion that the network is the most logical place to manage the resources in your data center.
Cindy Borovick,
director of data center networksIDC

Down the road, Cisco hopes that VFrame Data Center could control even data center infrastructure components such as power units and air conditioners.

"I think Cisco is essentially bringing forth the notion that the network is the most logical place to manage the resources in your data center," Borovick said. "It's the entity that touches all the resources."

VFrame will be able to load ESX onto an empty server and then configure all the network and storage connections that the ESX hypervisor needs. The VMware software can then take over to load and configure virtual machines on top of the hypervisor.

"Someone would have to configure the guest operating system and application," said Bill Erdman, a Cisco marketing director. "But to get that virtual server to run, you have to get the physical server to run ESX. That is what we are announcing."

While Borovick lauded Cisco's collaboration with VMware, she expressed doubts that any company would use only a single vendor to control its entire data center.

"Is the network going to be the übermanagement of the data center, or is it going to be some other product that would become that übermanagement?" she said. "I'm guessing that it will be a combination of things. It's so critical that you might be hesitant to trust one vendor with that."

Let us know what you think about the story; email Mark Fontecchio, News Writer.


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