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HP seeks NSX certification for FlexFabric switch

HP seeks NSX certification to sell the VMware network virtualization software with the FlexFabric switch.

HP is putting its sales team and its technology behind NSX, VMware's network virtualization software.

HP announced this week at VMworld in San Francisco that it would sell NSX as part of a package in which HP's FlexFabric 5930 top-of-rack switch would be an option. HP expects to seek NSX certification by the end ofSeptember. 

In 2013, HP provided interoperability between the NSX controller and its Virtual Application Networks (VAN) software-defined networking (SDN) controller. HP also provided a VAN application that lets the company's Intelligent Management Center (IMC) share data from network hardware and the NSX virtual network overlay with both controllers.

VMware provides tools for looking at the attributes and state of the virtual network. HP's IMC adds to that comparable information related to the physical layer of the network.

The same separation of powers applies to the controllers. The NSX controller provisions the virtual overlay, while HP's VAN controller provisions physical network flows on switches via OpenFlow.

FlexFabric 5930 will be the first HP switch to get NSX certification. The switch has 32 40 Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) ports and supports VXLAN, an encapsulation protocol for running an overlay network on existing Layer 3 infrastructure. Companies that buy NSX through HP will get the software running on the vendor's ProLiant or other servers.

NSX for micro-segmentation

NSX is often used today for network micro-segmentation, which is the process of splitting a virtual network into logical sub-networks, or subnets. Micro-segmentation can reduce traffic congestion, improve security and mitigate network failures.

To heighten security, network administrators can use NSX to build a perimeter around network segments to add east-west firewall functionality in the data center. Such micro-segmentation only works in environments that run on VMware's vSphere.

HP plans to expand NSX certification to its Altoline portfolio of open networking switches. The bare-metal hardware is based on designs developed by the Open Compute Project (OCP), a community of engineers building nonproprietary data center switches. Today, OCP-designed hardware is used mostly by telecommunication companies, large financial institutions and cloud service providers.

The OCP's work poses a threat to Cisco and other proprietary switch makers. Combined with software that provides network intelligence, OCP hardware could breed less expensive alternatives to Cisco's products.

Altoline switches are available with Cumulus Networks' Linux network operating system (NOS) or Pica8 Inc.'s PicOS. "Those operating systems are in the process of getting certified with NSX," said John Gray, data center marketing lead at HP.

Next Steps

FAQ for the VMware NSX platform

How VMware NSX impacts network security

VMware NSX changes the network admin job

Dig Deeper on SDN network virtualization

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