Video interview with George Kurian, Vice President and General Manager of the Application Delivery Business Unit at Cisco (Part 2/2)

In this second part of our interview with George Kurian, he explains about the capabilities of VFrame; being Cisco’s system’s management and provisioning that is aimed at the virtualized network and helps to put the virtual puzzle together.

Cisco recognizes the data center as a heterogeneous multivendor environment and plans to supports 3rd party technologies in the future. Cisco sees the notion of what a computer is today, getting truly blended closely with the network as interconnect speeds go up dramatically over the next two to three years.

Despite a fast moving environment Virtualization also offers IT professionals a significant career opportunity.

What is most important in the virtualization world is to not to think about your data center as traditional silos of storage, server, network, firewall, application…we need to bring virtualization into the network…we talked about both the Catalyst switches as well as the Nexus family and recently, our entire application delivery portfolio; application switching LAN acceleration techniques have got virtualization technology integrated into them. The second is …to bring networking intelligence into the virtual machine environment itself. So the ability to provide failover, traffic management, switching securities, and load balancing, those technologies that historically sat at the physical interface between the server and the network. The port now moved into the virtual machine and that’s really the technology roadmap for the next twelve months…

At Virtualization.com we are curious, if Cisco is going to make related products announcements at VMworld 2008.

Read the full transcript below or return to the first part.

0:05 Cisco has also announced VFrame? What type of capabilities does that offer?

George Kurian: VFrame which a system’s management and provisioning tool which we announced at Cisco Live a year ago, really helps to put together the virtualized network that compliments the virtual server environment. As we talked about to make virtualization real and operationally efficient, you need to have a virtualized network to compliment the virtual server and one of the things that our data center customers were telling us about is: ‘what’s most important in the virtualization world is to not to think about your data center as traditional silos of storage, server, network, firewall, application’. What they really are looking for is the service, which is putting all these virtual elements together. Now, VFrame especially with the VFrame 1.2 release, which we announced at Cisco Live this week, really completes putting together the virtual network environment. It’s got support for virtual LANs as well as virtual firewalls and recently, virtual load balancers as well as virtual storage. That really gives you a complete networking environment and then…

1:21 And also how to manage that?

Kurian: Yes.

1:23 Is that policy-based management?

Kurian: Policy-based provisioning tools and template-based provisioning models and what’s also interesting in the VFrame 1.2 release is we married that capability also now with the virtual server environment where VFrame 1.2 has tight integration with the VMware control center that allows you now to use the same policy-based provisioning model for VMware ESX servers.

1:49 Right. Are you trying to support other hypervisor, Xen, Hyper-V?

Kurian: Yeah. We absolutely recognized that the data center is a heterogenous multivendor environment. So, we’ll support other technologies in the future.

2:02 You just talked about the classic silos that are breaking up and do you see that the network manager and operator need broader skills to match all those new fields ? It is no longer just about the server and the firewalls and securities, storage. It’s all merging into the network.

Kurian: Absolutely. We see that virtualization offers all IT professionals a significant career opportunity to advance their own careers, and for the networking professionals themselves, we see that virtualization if you take advantage of the trend allows you to advance your career.

2:45 Do you have a role there? Could you help them or are you planning to…?

Kurian: Absolutely. Yes. At Ciscowe recognized to make virtualization work and be successful, our networking professionals need a much deeper understanding of the server storage and even application environments so that they can break through these silos. One of the things that we announced at Cisco Live this week was an augmentation to both our CCIE certification for our networking professionals that allows them to take advantage of new training and tools and get themselves data center CCIE certified. So in essence, they move from being a device and element management professional to actually a data center architect. The second was a series of programs for our channel partners so that they can also take advantage of these opportunities to be able to position themselves from being networking solution providers to really data center architects and solution providers. So, it’s called the data center network infrastructure program that we’ve made available now to our channel partners.

4:00 What about security evolutions, because today many organizations use VLANs to manage LAN security between the virtual machines, how do you see this evolve?

Kurian: There’re two aspects of what we see. I think the first is, as we talked about it, we need to bring into the switches and routers and security devices, the ingredients of virtualization. So, we need to bring virtualization into the network that phase is well underway. As we talked about both the Catalyst switches as well as the Nexus family and recently, our entire application delivery portfolio; application switching LAN, acceleration techniques have got virtualization technology integrated into them. The second is the phase that we are embarking upon and where we make very significant announcements over the next twelve months is to bring now networking intelligence into the virtual machine environment itself. So the ability to provide failover, traffic management, switching securities, and load balancing, those technologies that historically sat at the physical interface between the server and the network. The port now moved into the virtual machine and that’s really the technology roadmap for the next twelve months. So, stay posted for a lot of exciting announcements.

5:25 I think anything that will help the people in managing infrastructure is going to be curious from which management software is really going to be able to control all of these new features.

Kurian: Yeah. I think what we see, architecturally is a unified policy management model where you can implement policy for your physical servers and also extend that into the virtual domain and then from the product construct, you really see software extensions to our switching platforms.

5:59 How do you see the future of virtualization evolve? Where would you think is ahead of them in this field?

Kurian: I’d only think what we see are a couple of important things. I think the first is if you think about networking speeds and latency getting faster and faster and lower and lower respectively, you can, in essence, really extend virtualization to all aspects of IT systems. So, we do see down the road the opportunity to drive things like processor virtualization, memory virtualization, as interconnect speeds and latencies go up dramatically over the next two to three years. So, really the notion of what the computer gets truly blended closely with the network. In addition, I think when we see virtualization, we also see it extended into the application domain because today what we see is the IT infrastructures virtualize but on top of that, you’re having relatively monolithic and static applications, but what we see down the road there is that you can literally have any application be delivered to any device across any network.

7:15 George, thanks a lot for your insights and all the things you’ve told us about virtualization here at Cisco and we look forward to all those product announcements over the next few months.

Kurian: Keep posted. It’s an exciting time.

About the author

I'm a Belgian based internet entrepreneur and the owner of Virtualization.com & Virtualisation.com. I failed at raising venture capital for my X86 virtualization venture in 1999 and moved on to found Casius.com, Virtualisers.be & Data.be... This is where I keep my finger on the Virtualization pulse.

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