Is Nicira a Game-changer? Maybe. Harbinger? Definitely
While Nicira’s Network Virtualization Platform (NVP) has been out since February 9th, little more has been said about it’s game-changing properties, especially where it involves Cloud Computing. Networking has always been the hardware bottleneck that no one has actually overcome in Cloud Computing, but according to Nicira this is no longer an issue. However, rather than be the giant-killing game-changer, I can’t help but feel that it is more of a harbinger of things to come than the next up-and-coming giant.
At little more than 10 or so days from its last announcement, Nicira is not so surprisingly quiet. Their blog and news releases are silent, perhaps while they focus on existing customers such as AT&T, Rackspace, NTT, Fidelity Investments and eBay. Industry skeptics are many with Jon Oltsik from the research firm Enterprise Strategy Group comparing the man-years of an IP-based backbone against Nicira’s relatively young software-based backbone. According to others, Nicira’s NVP only focuses on Layer 2 and 3 of the numerous network layers in an enterprise network. Also bear in mind that there are quite a lot of major players, such as Cisco also plying their trade in the same Layer 2 and 3.
I have to agree with Nicira that there is more than enough room for everybody to take a piece of the pie, but I still feel that they are more of a harbinger than game-changer. While it makes the network less complex, the network is intentionally complex for some reasons, including security such as intrusion detection and preventions along with firewalls and load balancing. Simplifying this complexity will require that something else be in place to counter what has been an ongoing problem even for standard IP-based backbones.
The other issue raised by many other opponents is the fact that adoption is going to be slow, and this is not just because people do not know about it but because it will catch many organizations unawares or unable to move themselves in time to capitalize on Nicira’s IP-connectivity only requirement. In addition, the next couple of months some other startup or service may soon emerge, offering the same services in a better and more secure package. To maintain their current lead in the market as being the only major player around, Nicira should maintain their forward momentum by coming out with more features in the coming weeks. Then there is the other factor of actual hardware. While Nicira’s NVP may act unrelated to the actual hardware, Nicira’s own presentation clearly shows that network hardware is still being used and there is still no information on where this hardware actually is.
By Muz Ismial