Nicira promises virtual networks will transform networking

Feb 06, 2012 by Lisa Zyga weblog
Operators can reconfigure a virtual network programmatically. Image credit: Nicira

(PhysOrg.com) -- For the past four years, founders of the start-up company Nicira have been developing cutting-edge software that they predict will transform the networking technology underlying the Internet. Today Nicira has debuted the software, called the Network Virtualization Platform (NVP). As its name implies, the NVP software acts as a virtual network by simulating the routers, switches, and other physical hardware used in data center networks. Yet the virtual network is completely independent of the physical network hardware. This software-defined networking means that operators can reconfigure any piece of a network programmatically rather than having to manually reconfigure the physical hardware.

Network virtualization could lead to a number of advantages. One of the most important may be its ability to open the doors for cloud computing by eliminating the limitations imposed by the existing network, which cause and unreliability. Installing the NVP software on servers in a data center essentially provides each application with a private connection to the rest of the Internet, which keeps data more secure. Nicira has also demonstrated that the software can transfer Internet services to another data center without interruption, a move that currently requires all the hardware on the new network to be reprogrammed. This ability could be useful for companies with multiple data centers in different locations, as well as for in which a data center loses power.

Because the NVP software simplifies network reconfiguration, it enables operators to add new applications in minutes instead of days or weeks. The simplification could also lead to innovative applications that are currently too expensive or technically impossible to produce. Overall, by using virtual networks, Nicira estimates that companies with large data centers could save tens of millions of dollars in infrastructure costs.

"Network virtualization is the biggest change to networking in 25 years," said Stephen Mullaney, Chief Executive Officer of Nicira. "NVP provides the final pivotal piece to cloud computing, the most transformational change to IT in a generation.”

The NVP can be deployed on any existing network without the need to change any network hardware, and future changes to the network hardware won’t disrupt the . NVP only requires an IP address, making the physical network hardware less important. Once installed, the virtual network operates completely independently of the physical network, whose main role is to forward data packets. The company explains that the concept of network virtualization decoupling an application from the is similar to server virtualization, which decouples an application from the underlying server. Overall, the technology enables the creation of tens of thousands of independent and secure virtual networks.

Nicira isn't the only company pursuing software-defined networking. But it has already raised $50 million in funding from venture capitalists and has several large customers, including AT&T, Deutsche Telekom, Fidelity Investments, eBay, NTT, and Rackspace. The is commercially available on a monthly subscription-pricing model in which customers pay only for what they use.

Explore further: Download woes and HealthKit flaw bite iPhone software

More information: nicira.com
via: Technology Review

Related Stories

IBM Unveils New Software to Reduce Data Center Complexity

Jun 18, 2007

IBM today announced a new release of its premier virtualization management software that adds powerful new capabilities for simplifying the management of virtual and physical systems across multiple platforms. In addition, ...

Networking: Old hardware, new applications

May 30, 2006

The market for virtual servers -- software that lets computer users employ more than one operating system, whether it is Windows or Linux, on a single server -- is surging. Experts tell UPI's Networking that more than 45 ...

Recommended for you

Hit 'Just Dance' game goes mobile Sept. 25

Sep 18, 2014

Smartphone lovers will get to show off moves almost anywhere with the Sept. 25 release of a free "Just Dance Now" game tuned for mobile Internet lifestyles.

Indie game developers sprouting at Tokyo Game Show

Sep 18, 2014

Nestled among the industry giants at the Tokyo Game Show Thursday are a growing number of small and independent games developers from Asia and Europe, all hoping they are sitting on the next Minecraft.

Review: Ambitious 'Destiny' lacks imagination

Sep 18, 2014

Midway through "Destiny," the new science fiction epic from "Halo" creators Bungie, a smug prince is musing on the hero's desire to visit a mysterious site on Mars.

User comments : 3

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Expiorer
1 / 5 (2) Feb 07, 2012
I would not invest money in this project, when quantum networks are so close.
Technophebe
5 / 5 (3) Feb 07, 2012
The article doesn't mention anything about overheads. Surely simulating an entire network in software is going to be a hell of a lot slower than using dedicated hardware with chips specifically designed to do the processing?
Green_Dragon
1 / 5 (1) Feb 07, 2012
The flexibility gained might make up for any overheads, like moving a whole virtual network around for better load balancing.