Network Virtualization Platform Reinvents Network Operations and Economics

Nicira, the network virtualization company, today publicly unveiled its Network Virtualization Platform (NVP). NVP is a software-based system that creates a distributed virtual network infrastructure in cloud data centers that is completely decoupled and independent from physical network hardware. With Nicira NVP, global market leaders such as AT&T, eBay, Fidelity Investments, NTT and Rackspace are already realizing service delivery acceleration from weeks to minutes and dramatic cost reductions in data centers of tens of millions of dollars.

“AT&T, working with Nicira, is delivering enterprise-grade, secure and scalable network virtualization within its internal OpenStack deployment,” said Toby Ford, AVP Cloud Architecture and Strategy, AT&T. “Nicira’s technologies support our work to open the network for innovation and unlock numerous, differentiated offers such as the AT&T API Delivery Platform, the AT&T Developer Center ForHealth, and other services we’ll be building for developers and businesses.”

“Nicira’s Network Virtualization Platform is a game changer,” said Lew Moorman, President, Rackspace. “Nicira’s product and industry contributions with OpenStack are tightly aligned with our strategy to bring together the most innovative and open technology with our own fanatical support. Together we are bringing enterprise private networking to the cloud.”

Redefining Network Operations and Economics
NVP was designed to address the shortcomings of traditional networks by offering a platform that provides the operational model of a virtual machine. While applications have been decoupled from servers through compute virtualization, they have not yet been decoupled from the network through any type of scalable network virtualization. As a result, virtualized data centers face limits to what applications they can support and where the workloads can be placed.

These limitations restrict workload mobility, thus lowering resource utilization of servers, a primary cause of operational overhead. Legacy approaches can leave as much as 20%-30% of the server capacity in data centers under-utilized and drive up networking costs several fold, based on Nicira’s work with the largest cloud data center operators.

“Network virtualization is the biggest change to networking in 25 years,” said Stephen Mullaney, Chief Executive Officer of Nicira. “NVP provides the final pivotal piece to cloud computing, the most transformational change to IT in a generation. And the largest most forward-thinking cloud providers are laser-focused on operations and economics, the two benefits Nicira delivers.”

Distributed Virtual Network Infrastructure
NVP is a scalable software system implemented at the network edge and managed by distributed clustered controller architecture. The system forms a thin software layer that treats the physical network as an IP backplane. This approach allows the creation of virtual networks that have the same properties and services as physical networks, such as security and QoS policies, L2 reachability, and higher-level service capabilities such as stateful firewalling. These virtual networks can be created dynamically to support VM mobility anywhere within or between data centers without service disruption or address changes.

The NVP platform is compatible with any data center network hardware. It can be deployed non-disruptively on any existing network, and it allows for future changes to the network hardware without disruption to the operations of the virtual network platform.

Nicira was founded by networking research leaders Martin Casado and Nick McKeown from Stanford University and Scott Shenker from University of California at Berkeley. Casado’s work at Stanford led to the creation of OpenFlow and Software-Defined Networking (SDN), an architectural approach in which the intelligence of networking shifts from hardware to software. The company has raised $50 million in funding to date from Andreessen Horowitz, Lightspeed Venture Partners and New Enterprise Associates, as well as individual investors including VMware co-founder Diane Greene and Benchmark Capital co-founder Andy Rachleff.

Pricing and Availability
NVP software is delivered through a usage-based, monthly subscription-pricing model, which scales per virtual network port. Customers only pay for what they use, and pricing scales accordingly. NVP software has been commercially available since July 2011.