15 June 2019

VMware to Acquire Avi Networks for NetOps Capability

Once this deal closes, sometime between now and August, VMware plans to add a software-based load balancer, along with a web application firewall (WAF) and a service mesh to its network virtualization software portfolio. Tom Gillis, senior vice president and general manager for the networking and security business unit at VMware, said the goal is ultimately to make it as simple to deploy applications in an on-premises IT environment as it is on a public cloud by enabling IT organizations to automate the provisioning of network resources exposed via the VMware NSX network virtualization overlay. Avi Networks will extend those capabilities by adding a high-performance programmable load balancer, which eliminates reliance on legacy load balancers based on proprietary hardware platforms that are both expensive and rigid.

Gillis said VMware will then infuse the WAF technology developed by Avi Networks into its network overlay platform to further secure east-west traffic in the data center. Finally, VMware intends to marry the service mesh technology from Avi Networks that supports a high-performance ingress controller with its ongoing efforts to integrate the open source Istio service mesh with NSX. Once all that work is completed, Gillis said it should be possible to deploy a workload on any platform with a single click. The challenge organizations face today is that provisioning and securing the network resources required to deploy an application outside of a public cloud computing environment still takes multiple days to sometimes weeks. VMware has already signaled its intention to make NSX network overlays available across multiple clouds and on-premises IT environments. Avi Networks CEO Amit Pandey noted that both companies are on a similar trajectory to leverage x86 processors to eliminate reliance on proprietary networking hardware. That shift to software-based networks and security services is driving the biggest transformation in the data center in the last 25 years. In terms of leveraging application programming interfaces to automate the provisioning of networks, it’s clear networking technologies have been lagging behind advances made in both compute and storage infrastructure. The challenge and the opportunity vendors such as VMware now see is the ability to more holistically manage IT environments spanning from the network to the application. As part of that strategy, VMware has been making a string of acquisitions to extend its core virtual machine franchise.

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It’s still too early to say whether all those investments will pay off for VMware. Reliance on VMware technologies in public clouds is relatively slight compared to the dominance VMware has today in on-premises IT environments. VMware is banking that its ability to extend the reach of its portfolio to foster the development of hybrid cloud computing, which is strongly anchored around on-premise IT environments that still run the majority of the workloads in the enterprise, will prevail.