VMworld 2014: Midokura’s Overlay SDN, Network Virtualization Gain Traction

Judging by the crowds in the packed VMworld 2014 Solutions Exchange vendor exhibit hall, you might think all the action is at its center, where vendors like Cisco, HP, Dell, VMware, and Brocade hold forth on their visions of SDN at expansive, elaborately designed booth areas. But the upstarts tucked away in the comparatively unassuming New Innovators Pavilion at the back of the hall warrant attention, too, especially when they’re close to breaking out, as Japanese network virtualization and overlay SDN vendor Midokura appears to be. I sat down with Dan Conde, Midokura’s director of products, to talk about the latest Midokura news.

OpenStack wins new Midokura customer

For many newer companies, convincing a customer to go public can be a challenge. That may be why Conde was excited to share the name of a new Midokura customer. Zetta.io, a newly launched, OpenStack-based Scandinavian IaaS provider, selected Midokura to provide its network virtualization functions. Zetta.io chose Midokura, Conde believes, for a couple of reasons. For one, “as a smaller company, we can give them a lot of attention,” he said. And for another, Midokura’s strong focus on OpenStack made the vendor a good fit for the OpenStack-based cloud provider. Midokura and Zetta.io will formally announce the partnership soon.

New Midokura cloud collaborations

In addition to winning a referenceable customer, Midokura has also been hard at work on several vendor partnerships. Collaborations with Cumulus and with Dell have resulted in new code, currently shipping, that bridges VXLANs to physical VLANs in Cumulus Linux and Dell FTOS operating systems. Midokura is now also offering the MidoNet Bridge service, which enables MidoNet instances to span vSphere and OpenStack platforms, integrating vSphere/ESXi environments with OpenStack/KVM-based ones.

Midokura’s partnership with Fujitsu, which will integrate MidoNet into Fujitsu’s cloud orchestration platform, is ongoing. Midokura can now also count KVH among its partners. Japan-based KVH is offering MidoNet as an option in its hosted private cloud offering, Private Cloud Type-S. Conde explained that Private Cloud Type-S targets financial organizations wary of the public cloud. It will provide hosted, but not shared, infrastructure for customers in Japan, Singapore, and Hong Kong. Given the concerns around security and compliance in the financial sector, KVH’s decision to offer MidoNet as an option is a vote of confidence in MidoNet’s production-readiness.

OpenStack and SDN

Speaking of production-readiness, OpenStack isn’t quite there yet, at least in the eyes of the enterprise, Conde mused. Many organizations are willing to use OpenStack in test and dev environments but shy away from it for more mission-critical workloads. Conde blames this in part on the reference architectures that come with OpenStack distros. They get mistaken for best practices by many users, he said, leading to initial dissatisfaction with the platform. Vendor support of OpenStack is beginning to change perceptions, however. VMware’s integration of OpenStack, announced this morning at the keynote session, may help too.

Midokura Director of Products Dan Conde at VMworld 2014What is production-ready? SDN is, according to Conde—at least if it’s SDN that uses VXLAN overlays, as Midokura’s happens to do. Overlay SDN addresses the key perceptual issue bogging down enterprise SDN adoption: the fear that it will require a heavy investment in additional hardware.

“SDN as a term has been co-opted by different vendors to serve different purposes, and that can be good and bad. With Cisco, for example, they raise awareness, and that’s good. But what’s negative about vendors like Cisco defining SDN is the perception that SDN will require new hardware,” Conde said.

Despite that, however, Conde is seeing growth and gaining traction.

“People in the enterprise are taking SDN more seriously now,” he said.

That’s something that plenty of vendors in the Solutions Exchange, both at the big booths and off to the side in the small ones, will be happy to hear.

Header photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

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