3Com, LineSider Partner on Application-Aware Virtualization and Network Management

If you think virtualization management is difficult now, wait until VMs migrate inside the network infrastructure.

March 10, 2008

2 Min Read
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3Com today announces a partnership with network management vendor LineSider aimed in part at improving control of virtual servers running on switches and routers. LineSider's Overdrive joins the list of server software that can runs on 3Com's OSN (Open Services Network) module, a Linux blade server that slots into 3Com's Multi-Service Routers.

OSN already supports WAN optimization from Expand Networks, IP telephony from Digium, e-mail leak prevention from Vericept and security event management from Q1Labs, as well as an open source bundle from 3Com itself and Windows on VMware, so adding another partner may not be too important. And unlike 3Com's partnership with Digium, the one with LineSider isn't even intended to replace servers: The LineSider software that runs on the router is essentially just a management agent, still needing to feed data back to a separate Overdrive server.

But the agent doesn't just aid management of the 3Com device itself. With branch offices the main market for the MSR, it's aimed at helping management of all devices at the branch office through a single Overdrive server at a data center.

LineSider is particularly focused on managing apps that run inside virtual machines, automatically adjusting firewall, routing or other policies to match changing IP addresses as VMs are set up, torn down or moved around. At present, this means VMs running inside physical servers. However, 3Com's long-term strategy is to bring more VMs inside networking devices, and LineSider says that the partnership is aimed in part at managing these.

Though a VM in a router should behave exactly as one in a physical server, any widespread migration of VMs into the network infrastructure will make mapping them to physical resources even harder than at present. To help with this, LineSider is working with 3Com's other OSN partners, as well as on supporting 3Com's upcoming SDK. Due in the first half of 2008, this will let users port any application to the OSN module.At present, OSN only works with a router. 3Com says it plans to release a module for switches, which the LineSider software will also be able to run on and manage, though it hasn't provided any timeframe for this. Because of the higher bandwidths that switches must support, building a server that can usefully run applications in a switch is more difficult than one designed for a router.

No other networking vendors yet offer the capability to run complete third-party applications on switches or routers, though Cisco has talked about it. Like competitors Alcatel and F5, Cisco sells networking gear that can run smaller components of third-party apps.

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