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Summary:

Embrane is giving network administrators the ability to keep virtual network programs tightly bound to the applications they support. It’s more proof applications are getting higher priority in the data center.

Dante Malagrino Embrane Jonathan Heiliger North Bridge Venture Partners Martin Casado Niciria Structure 2012
photo: Pinar Ozger

Embrane, one of the early companies to make a play in software-defined networking (SDN), just took a few more steps toward giving the application the keys to the data center.

On Monday it announced new capability in its heleos software that permits network functions allocated to a specific application to get transferred with that application as it moves from one environment to another in a data center. It requires no physical configuration. The feature applies for the network functions Embrane has already turned into software: firewalls, load balancers, virtual private networks (VPN) and SSL termination.

The new functionality gives customers “the ability to create a dedicated network on a per-app basis,” said co-founder and CEO Dante Malagrinò (pictured). “Today they (networks) cannot do that.”

The usual procedure is for developers to tell IT what a new application needs in the way of networking resources, and the network team goes to work. “It takes IT a very long time to make changes,” Malagrinò said.

As applications go from development to test to production, it’s now considerably easier to keep, say, a firewall and a load balancer floating right along with that application, because configuration of hardware isn’t necessary. Plus, floor space gets conserved. Those virtualized programs live inside a container, or a vTopology, to use Embrane’s preferred term. And when the application gets retired, the container gets killed off with it.

Separately, Embrane can now deploy its virtualized networking services and make connections among network instances through a plug-in for OpenStack’s networking software, Neutron.

As SDN gains speed and picks up use cases here and there, one thing people are cheering for on the sidelines is application-aware networking — the notion that applications should be the part of the stack setting priorities. The applications should not have to be thrown around the data center, at the mercy of the brains inside switches.

As Paul Strong, CTO of VMware’s global field organization, said at our Structure: Europe conference in Amsterdam last year, “All people truly care about is their apps at the end of the day.” There’s more consensus all the time that software can take on this responsibility — and do it more cost-effectively, too, with commodity servers.

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  1. Michael Bushong (@mbushong) Tuesday, July 23, 2013

    Great to see the application taking center stage. The networking world has been insular for longer than useful, and seeing folks take the application to the foreground is exciting for all of us.

    -Mike Bushong (@mbushong)
    Plexxi

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